BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Benjamin Magalong said the online contact tracing training of about 499 persons working in Metro Manila started on Wednesday to boost the tracing effort amid the surge in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases.
Magalong, in a text message on Wednesday, said the training is for participants from the National Capital Region Police Office, personnel of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), and representatives from different local government units in Metro Manila.
Magalong, who is the country’s contact tracing czar, said those who will be trained will augment the existing contact tracers in different parts of Metro Manila.
He said from the 50,000 contact tracers hired and trained in 2020, there are now only about 30 percent who are performing the function.
“During our meeting with LGUs in Manila, we saw various lapses in the contact tracing data aside from the lack of contact tracer especially with the increasing number of cases,” Magalong said.
He said the country still has low contact tracing efficiency ratio as LGUs concentrate only on the first generation contacts of patients who are mostly members of the households due to the lack of personnel and the large number of persons that need to be traced.
He also cited the inefficient encoding of data.
“Hindi maayos ang encoding. Marami kaming nakita na zero (the encoding was not properly done and we saw there were a lot of zero) close contacts, but when we recalled the records meron naman palang (there were) close contacts, hindi lang maayos ang encoding (it was just not properly encoded),” Magalong said.
In 2020, he said there were many contact tracers wherein a single case would have about four to five contact tracers working which is now a reverse.
“One contact tracer handles four or more cases, that is why they are overwhelmed,” he said.
He said that is why there is backlog and cases pile which prevents the contact tracer from following it up.
“We need to capacitate LGUs and emphasize that they have to go beyond the first generation contact,” he said.
He said he has already discussed with MMDA Chairman Benhur Abalos and they agreed on the importance and the urgent need to do the training of contact tracers to stop the spread of Covid-19.
“Kailangan nating matutukan ang mga ganitong sitwasyon lalo na sa NCR na dikit-dikit ang border (we need to focus on this situation especially in NCR where the borders are contiguous),” he said. (PNA)