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âContact tracing still weakest link in COVID-19 responseâ
Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong in this undated file photo by the Philippine News Agency.
Interaksyon/Philippine News Agency

‘Contact tracing still weakest link in COVID-19 response’

Artemio Dumlao (The Philippine Star) - May 5, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Baguio City Mayor and contact tracing czar Benjamin Magalong stressed the need yesterday to retrain the country’s 249,000 contact tracers.

Magalong said the training of 5,000 new recruits under the labor department’s emergency employment program should also be given priority.

He said contact tracing remains the “weakest link” in the government’s response against COVID-19.

Magalong said he hopes the government has enough funds to retrain contact tracers, especially in areas where there is a high number of cases.

“We are relying on LGUs (local government units) as it is their sole responsibility to do it... We are urging them to use the analytical tools given to them,“ he said.

Magalong said achieving an ideal contact tracing efficiency ratio remains a big challenge, especially with new COVID variants being detected in the country.

The new target contact tracing efficiency ratio is 15 persons for every patient.

Magalong cited the contact tracing ratio in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, where he observed “erratic efficiency figures.”

“Minsan hindi maintindihan, minsan mataas, minsan mababa, some unbelievable,” he said.

As this developed, in Zamboanga, isolation facilities and hospitals are overwhelmed amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, according to city health officer Dulce Amor Miravite.

Miravite said the city logged 1,634 active cases as of Monday.

She said a majority of the patients are under home isolation and waiting to be transferred to isolation facilities or hospitals.

Miravite said they expect the opening of additional isolation facilities at the latest by next week. – Roel Pareño

BENJAMIN MAGALONG COVID-19
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