Mass hiring of contact tracers eyed to resolve outbreak, job losses
A healthcare worker prepares to take a swab of a man in Taguig City on May 8, 2020.
The STAR/Walter Bollozos

Mass hiring of contact tracers eyed to resolve outbreak, job losses

Ian Nicolas Cigaral ( - May 12, 2020 - 6:56pm

MANILA, Philippines — As the number of coronavirus infections rises and lockdowns put thousands of jobs in limbo, the government is looking at hitting two birds with one stone through a mass hiring of contact tracers, crucial to circumventing the contagion.

"We need to hire enough contact tracers to match the numbers we expect that will come with more testing," Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said in a statement released Tuesday.

How to go about the hiring process is still under study, together with the rest of proposals meant to assist the economy toward recovery, Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado said in a separate text message.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Philipines reported 264 new cases of the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19), bringing the national tally to 11,350. 

Meanwhile, lockdowns meant to arrest the spread of infection shuttered two-thirds of businesses and displaced a fifth of workers in the main island of Luzon, government data reported last week showed.

In the same statement, Dominguez said going on a hiring spree of contact tracers will boost the country's efforts to stop local transmission of the highly contagious disease and provide employment opportunities at a time the health crisis is roiling job markets.

The proposed mass recruitment of contact tracers forms part of Dominguez's "five-point program" to restart the country's virus-battered economy, which contracted 0.2% in as of March, the weakest performance since the final quarter of 1998.

"We have to stimulate demand, and that's with ‘Build, Build, Build’ and push[ing] food production,” Dominguez said, adding that the government's infrastructure program “remains to be the best driver of economic growth because it has the best multiplier effects in terms of employment and shared prosperity.” 

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