Magalong assures digital contact tracing app secured, safe to use

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 3, 2020   •   163

Contact tracing czar and Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong assured the public on Thursday (September 3) that StaySafe, a digital contact tracing application, is safe to use.

Magalong said the app is secured and has undergone meticulous evaluation by the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT).

He also said the app can be integrated into the existing contact tracing system of local government units.

Alam po namin na marami na pong local government unit ang may kaniya-kaniya pong digital contact tracing application. Kaya hindi na po kailangan na mag-back to zero sila (We know there are local government units that have their own digital contact tracing application so there is no need for them to go back to zero),” he said.

StaySafe application can be downloaded for free.

Several business establishments in Metro Manila will use the application to lessen queues in manually filling out forms for contact tracing.

MultiSys Technologies Corporation CEO and StaySafe Developer David Almirol Jr. said app users will only need to present their QR code in malls, restaurants, and other establishments for their profile to be uploaded.

“Imagine habang gamit gamit mo ang StaySafe at naglalakad ka sa kalye, so sasabihin ng StaySafe, may na detect ka 3 meters to 5 meters confirmed case. So mag-iingat ka. Magso-social distancing ka. Ganoon lang ka simple po (Imagine using StaySafe and you’re walking. StaySafe will alert you that it has detected a confirmed case 3 to 5 meters from you. So you will take extra precautions, you will exercise social distancing. It’s that simple),” he said. -AAC (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)

QC gov’t seeks complete info from DOH for contact tracing

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 7, 2020

The Quezon City local government has appealed to the Department of Health (DOH) to ensure complete information of all coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) positive individuals to hasten its contact tracing efforts.

QC Mayor Joy Belmonte said the agency’s failure to provide complete information in some cases delays contact tracing by days.

Due to this, she said frontliners are forced to spend valuable time looking for the needed information from other possible sources including social media.

“The lack of available information from the outset, specifically addresses and contact numbers, amounting to half of all cases reported, delays contact tracing by days,” she said.

Belmote said 573 or 47% out of the 1,224 COVID-19 cases from Aug. 1 to 2 have no addresses or contact numbers, forcing the City Epidemiology and
Surveillance Unit (CESU) to label them as ‘unknown’.

“With that, we appeal to your good office as Secretary of Health to set the vision and direction in improving data quality for rapid contact tracing,” she added. -AAC

QC releases guidelines to speed up contact tracing in large companies

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 31, 2020

The Quezon City Government has released the guidelines it has drafted to expedite contact tracing of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in large companies.

QC Mayor Joy Belmonte said this is to further contain the virus and minimize the employee risk of infection and economic effects of COVID-19.

Based on the guidelines, an individual is considered a close contact if he or she had face-to-face contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case within one-meter distance, for more than 15 minutes and within a 14 day period from the confirmed case’s onset of symptoms.

Those in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case should undergo a 14-day quarantine and should undertake the swab testing if he or she is exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.

“In either case, close contacts should not be allowed to report for work immediately upon identification as such, and should be required to self-isolate at home,” Belmonte said.

Companies are also mandated to require their employees to list down all usual close contacts, both inside and outside work, even prior to any confirmed or suspect COVID-19 case.

“Companies are also mandated to provide the City Epidemiological Surveillance Unit (CESU), through qcsurveillance@quezoncity.gov.ph, with updates regarding confirmed cases and close contacts among the workforce,” the guidelines also stated. AAC

PNP to conduct tracing of individuals who had direct contact with COVID-19 patients

Maris Federez   •   July 16, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police (PNP) has belied reports that they will be searching for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) positive patients as if they are running after fugitives.

In a phone interview, PNP spokesperson PBGen. Bernard Banac clarified that they are not the ones heading the house-to-house search for individuals infected with the virus but the barangay or city health workers.

Banac added that their role in the contact tracing is to provide escort to the infected individuals who will be advised to go to COVID-19 facilities.

“Mangunguna pa rin talaga ang mga local health workers natin at ang pagbabasehan n’yan ay of course ‘yung mga listahan nila ng mga positive cases, so sila talaga ang nakakaalam n’yan,” Banac said.

Banac, however, added that they will be conducting a thorough search of individuals who had direct contact with those who have tested positive for COVID-19 to prevent the further spread of the deadly virus.

“Ang pinatutungkulan ni PNP Chief PGen. Archie Gamboa ay yung pamamaraan ng contact tracing kung saan ito ay pinangunahan ni Mayor Benjie Magalong. ‘Yung sistema ng paghahanap ng mga possible na mga exposure sa Covid-19, hindi ito ‘yung tungkol doon sa pagsundo ng mga positive cases na,” he said.

Joint Task Force Coronavirus (JTF CV) Shield Commander PLtGen. Guillermo Eleazar also reiterated that the role of the police is just to provide escort to the barangay or city health workers in locating and picking up those who are positive for COVID-19.

“Ang role ng ating PNP ay para tumulong sa ating LGU through their health officers or workers kasi sila ang nakakaalam kung sino ‘yung mga pasyente na positive na para dalhin sa mga isolation facilities,” Eleazar said. — (with inputs from Lea Ylagan) /mbmf

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