Over 80K contact tracers needed for PH expanded contact tracing efforts – DILG

Robie de Guzman   •   June 18, 2020   •   1316

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Thursday said it is looking to hire and train a total of 82,537 contact tracers amid government efforts to expand its contact tracing capabilities.

In a statement, the DILG said they will form part of the contact tracing teams of local government units nationwide to boost the government’s efforts to effectively manage the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Given that the there is still no vaccine or cure to COVID-19, the government needs to train and hire contact tracers who will break the chains of transmission of COVID-19 by identifying those who may have been exposed to the virus and monitoring them daily for 14 days,” DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said.

Año said a proposal has already been submitted to the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-MEID) for the hiring and training of contact tracers.

Under the DILG proposal, the following are the qualifications of contact tracers:

  • Preferably graduates of Bachelor’s Degree on Allied Medical Courses, other health-related courses, or Criminology
  • Second priority maybe given to those applicants who have completed at least two years of college education in medical or criminology-related courses
  • Applicants shall preferably have one-year relevant experience and four hours relevant training

Año said that, at present, there are 52,463 contact tracers nationwide who are part of 3,347 local contact tracing teams.

“Per WHO (World Health Organization), the ideal contact tracer to population ratio is 1:800 so to fully cover 108-million Filipinos, we actually need a total of 135,000 contact tracers,” he said.

However, the DILG chief noted that while there is a need to hire 80,000 contact tracers, they only proposed to hire 50,000 since LGUs continue to increase the number of their contact tracers and there are also volunteers from the private sector.

Año said that the DILG expects the approval of its proposal soon and expects to start hiring the additional contact tracers by next month.

IATF approves mandatory 5th-day testing for inbound travelers

Marje Pelayo   •   January 27, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) issued a resolution on Wednesday (January 27) allowing the mandatory 5th-day test for inbound travelers. 

This means all travelers arriving in the Philippines must wait for five days in isolation before they are tested for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in line with the recommendation by the Department of Health (DOH).

The DOH believes such a measure is more effective in detecting and determining if a traveler is a COVID-19 carrier or not.

“For efficiency, for government and also to be more rational in doing things, atin pong ginawa ito. Pero kung sila ay may nararamdaman na o di kaya ay may high suspicion. Meron siyang sakit na ito, siya po ay kailangang i-test,” said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

DOH said it is important for each traveller to be isolated to prevent potential transmission of the virus while they are waiting for their turn to be tested.

“Pero ang kailangan natin maintindihan, iyong ating prinsipyo na isolation first, as long as we isolate them even though they are positive we are assured na naco-confine lang doon sa kwartong yun ang sakit at hindi po makakapanghawa kaya isa rin po iyan na nakalagay sa ating resolution na kailangan walang cohorting,” Vergeire said.

Once they are tested negative, they will be endorsed to their respective local government units and serve the 14-day mandatory quarantine period in their areas of destination.

The new testing and quarantine protocols aim at preventing further spread of the more contagious UK variant and possible entry of other variants of COVID-19 into the country.

Meanwhile, based on DOH’s update over 600 individuals who have close contacts with the 13 UK variant positive cases in the Cordillera Administrative Region have been identified.

Also, the DOH has identified a number of returning overseas Filipino workers who arrived in the region and has been waiting for the result of their tests whether they are positive or negative of COVID-19.

“Contacts na nakita na po nila. First, second and third-generation contacts,” Vergeire said,

“Also, nakapagusap na rin po sila. They have reviewed itong triaging system ng CAR. Nakakita na rin sila ng 8 na OFWs na bumalik po sa bansa at pumasok po dito sa lugar na ito,” she added.

Still, the DOH maintained that it is early to declare the situation in the region as community transmission. MNP (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

DILG eyes dialogue with UP officials on campus security agreement

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 27, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has invited the officials of the University of the Philippines (UP) to a dialogue to discuss the 1992 UP-DILG Accord.

In a statement, DILG Spokesperson Usec. Jonathan Malaya said there are some provisions in the accord that have not been followed. The dialogue would also pave way to determine the security needed inside the campus.

“The non-academic areas in UP have increased through the years and crime has been increasing, thus we need to discuss ways on how we can maintain peace and order in those areas,” he said.

“With the growth of the population within each campus, the current capability of the university’s police and firefighting forces must be assessed. Kaya pa ba nilang panindigan ang responsibilidad na pangalagaan ang seguridad at kaayusan sa loob ng campus (Can they still put up with the responsibility to ensure the security inside the campus)?” he added. 

The UP-DILG Accord was formed last December 2, 1992 which was signed by formed DILG Secretary Rafael Alunan II and former UP President Jose Abueva. –AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

WHO studies long-term effect of COVID-19

Marje Pelayo   •   January 27, 2021

The World Health Organization (WHO) has found evidence of lingering symptoms in COVID-19 patients who have recovered from the disease.

The agency calls it “long COVID” – a condition where survivors of the disease experience long-term health issues like extreme fatigue, persistent cough and exercise intolerance.

According to the international body, they will be conducting a series of consultations about this condition.

“In February 2021, WHO will organize a series of consultations to reach consensus on a description of this condition and its subtypes, and case definitions,” WHO said in a statement.

Meantime, the health agency advised patients who recovered from COVID-19 to have some follow up check ups with their health care provider to monitor their conditions.

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