Duterte: More than 15,000 trained as COVID-19 contact tracers
A healthcare worker prepares to take a swab of a man in Taguig City on May 8, 2020.
The STAR/Walter Bollozos

Duterte: More than 15,000 trained as COVID-19 contact tracers

Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - June 9, 2020 - 8:06pm

MANILA, Philippines — More than 15,000 people have been trained as contact tracers as the government seeks to strengthen its capacity to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, President Rodrigo Duterte said.

In his eleventh report to Congress on the government's pandemic response, Duterte said the Department of Health (DOH) conducts batches of training of trainers on contract tracering and ensures that all regional epidemiology and surveillance units have at least one trained trainer.

"As of 04 June 2020, a total of 15,386 contact tracing team members have been trained," the president said.

The DOH previously said about P11.7 billion is needed to hire 136,000 contact tracers for at least three months. Contact tracing aims to identify the people who had close contact with persons infected with the coronavirus so they can be isolated.

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

Duterte also reported that the DOH has been provided with an additional cash allocation of P95.62 million from this year's budget for the purchase of reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) detection kits. Nine different types of PCR test kits have been purchased for P1.6 billion, with 12,992 test kits or about 40 percent of the items purchased already delivered. The rest of the test kits are expected to arrive by July.

Duterte said a total of 1,508,000 personal protective equipment (PPE) out of the 6,127,349 units purchased by the DOH have been delivered, with another 3.5 million PPE sets to be delivered this month. Ten units of automated nucleic acid extraction machines worth P400 million are awaiting delivery within the month. One thousand units of mechanical ventilators amounting to P946.400 each will be delivered within July 2020 to March 2021.

The government's task force on the coronavirus pandemic has also approved the science department's recommendation to include China-based biopharmaceutical firm Sinovac Biotech Ltd. as a potential collaborator of the Philippines in coronavirus vaccine development and clinical trials. The Philippine Board of Investment has also been included in the task force's technical working group on vaccine development. 

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