‘Slow contact tracing’ blamed for spread of new coronavirus

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THE slow conduct of contact tracing is to blame for the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in Cebu City, according to Maj. Gen. Melquiades Feliciano, Inter-Agency Task Force deputy chief implementer in Cebu.

To address this, 130 teams of contact tracers are being trained to conduct contact tracing in the city’s 80 barangays, said Feliciano.

He hopes the teams can start with the activity on Sunday, July 12, 2020.

Feliciano reported his assessment to the City Council during the latter’s regular session on Friday, July 10.

He said it was one of the lapses of the emergency operations center (EOC).

“A large number of Covid-19 positives were not dealt with accordingly, resulting in spreading (of the virus),” Feliciano said.

“If there’s a proactive contact tracing, you do not wait for the patient to go to you or to the cluster clinics. You’re supposed to be the one looking for the suspected and probable (Covid-19 patients),” he added.

Feliciano said they aim to pinpoint the source of infection and transmission in the 20 barangays with a high number of Covid-19 cases by Thursday, July 16.

However, he did not name the 20 barangays.

Feliciano said Cebu City’s current data only represent 20 or 25 percent of the real situation on the ground.

He pointed out the EOC’s lack of communication with barangays and other government offices.

“There are gray areas from coordination of the barangays with the EOC. The EOC is not connected with Cesu (City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit), Resu (Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit)... When that happens, they’re now on the loose and (have) no control of monitoring,” said Feliciano.

Feliciano said organized contact tracing teams will be tasked to “determine and proactively find the virus in the community.”

He also told the council that Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, appointed Cebu overseer for Covid-19 response, wants to already open the city. However, he disagreed with Cimatu.

If it were up to him, Feliciano said, he does not want to downgrade the city’s quarantine status unless appropriate measures to control the spread of infections are in place.

Feliciano, though, said it is still up to the national government to decide on the city’s fate.

While aggressive contact tracing is ongoing, the intention of the EOC is to flatten the curve, he said.

“The curve is floating on the higher level of the data. The ideal is to drop it to the lowest possible level. We cannot have it zero because there’s no vaccine yet,” Feliciano said.

Feliciano urged all officials to be active and to participate in all the developments and actions of the City Government.

Since all councilors were assigned to monitor different barangays since April, Feliciano urged them to take charge and do just that. (JJL)


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