Budget constraints force DILG to rehire only 30% of contact tracers from 2020

Budget constraints force DILG to rehire only 30% of contact tracers from 2020
In this photo taken on Sept. 8, 2020, passengers wearing face shields have their temperature taken before boarding a bus in Manila. Many face the new normal in the Philippines, where it is now compulsory to wear both face masks and plastic shields in indoor public spaces and on public transport to curb the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of the Interior and Local Government will only be rehiring 30% of the 50,000 contact tracers whose contracts ended last year, citing limited budget for the crucial job of identifying contacts of coronavirus patients.

“We need to have a more rational number of contact tracers and work within the available budget allotted to the department,” DILG undersecretary and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said Saturday in a statement.

With a funding of P1.9 billion, the DILG said it will only be rehiring around 15,000 contact tracers for a six-month contract while it waits for the release of additional funds for more contact tracers.

Bulk of the funding, or P1.4 billion of it, would be sourced from unreleased funds provided under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, while the remaining P500 million would be sourced from the budget allocated for contact tracers under this year’s spending plan.

Malaya said Metro Manila would be rehiring the most number of contact tracers among all regions, with the DILG planning to redeploy 2,381 contact tracers in the capital region.

Malaya said Metro Manila would be the top region which would rehire the most number of contact tracers, with the capital region seen to rehire 2,381 of them. Central Luzon and Eastern Visayas follow Metro Manila, with the two regions seen to rehire 1,504 and 1,417 contact tracers respectively.

The DILG’s announcement came against the backdrop of concerns about the new coronavirus variant which is feared to be more infectious.

The World Health Organization describes contact tracing as an “essential public health tool for controlling infectious disease outbreaks.” — Xave Gregorio




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