BAGUIO City Mayor Benjamin Magalong is training a core group composed of doctors, nurses, and investigators from the police and other law enforcement agencies in Cebu City to help beef up the contact tracing efforts of the City.
Magalong, a retired police general who used to be the head of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of the Philippine National Police, arrived in Cebu City on Tuesday, July 7, 2020, upon the invitation of Police Regional Office-Central Visayas Director Albert Ignatius Ferro.
Magalong, together with his team composed of six tracing experts, aims to share with Cebu City Baguio City's best systems and technological practices in contact tracing.
He hoped participants to the training already have a background in one of the special skills of an investigator which is cognitive interviewing.
"Assuming that nobody has undergone cognitive interviewing, then this is something that we are going to impart to the participants. This is the first thing," he said.
Magalong’s team will stay in Cebu for two and a half days and then proceed to Muntinlupa City for another training session.
Ferro said the training will be participated by members of the Cebu City Police and other PNP members in Central Visayas as well as members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and health workers from the Regional Health Department and the City Government of Cebu.
Magalong said the contact tracing training will consist of two main parts: the investigative or cognitive skill and the Covid-19 E-system.
The Covid-19 E-system, which they applied in Baguio City is composed of the data clock tool, the GIS platform and link analysis, Magalong explained.
According to the official website of the City Government of Baguio, the system can capture all types of geographical data, overlay affected areas and visualize data to reveal patterns and trends of the confirmed Covid-19 cases and the possible spread of infection.
It provides views on how one patient could infect or transfer the virus to others by looking into their daily activities and it also creates opportunities to properly track down the patients’ close contacts through the timeline.
1 team, 1 case
Since the trainers will not be able to thoroughly impart all the aspects of the tracing technology in just two days, Magalong said, one of their team members will have to stay behind for two weeks to ensure that everybody will become well versed with the different types of tracing technology.
“For the contact tracers, as much as possible, one team should be dedicated to one particular case only; or probably, two cases per team only. But if three cases are assigned per team, you will overwhelm the team," he said.
Magalong shared that in Baguio City, a team of contact tracers is composed of one doctor, one nurse and one investigator.
"We are not only talking about 10 or 20 contacts. For one case, we will be able to determine first level contacts as much as 153 (people),” he said.
Magalong clarified that he is here only to train a selected group of Cebuano experts and not to change the entire contact tracing system already put in place by the Cebu City Government.
Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella said as the City embarks on massive contact tracing, he aims to have 80 contact tracing teams with five members each to cover all of the city’s 80 barangays.
At present, the City only has 35 teams of contact tracers.
Ferro has committed to augment the contact tracing teams of the City with members of the PNP.
He also called on students who are willing to volunteer.
"Maybe you can bring your laptops and volunteer to be with your law enforcers to help us on massive data encoding and gathering. Let’s help each other to solve Cebu’s problem," Ferro said.
Areas for lockdown
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, the appointed overseer of Cebu’s Covid-19 response, welcomed Magalong.
Magalong said he hopes that after the contact tracing, they could finally pinpoint which areas should go on a targeted lockdown.
Contact tracing is one of three weapons of the government in the containment of Covid-19.
The other two are proper community quarantine measures and the massive testing. (WBS)