Contact tracing ‘weak spot’ in CH’s Covid-19 response

Photo from the Cebu City PIO

MANDAUE City Councilor Nerissa Soon-Ruiz described the contact tracing of persons exposed to coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) patients as weak. Aside from testing and treatment, the local lawmaker said the City’s tracing efforts have been slow.

Ruiz said she already discussed the matter with City Administrator Jamaal Calipayan.

She said the City plans to hire more contact tracers to address the problem.

Ruiz, chaiperson of the council committee on health, said the City has no problem with testing as results often come out after three to four days. Before, the City had to wait seven to 10 days for results.

As to treating Covid-19 patients, Ruiz said she is confident that hospitals in the city can cater to the patients’ needs. The City, she said, has already identified isolation centers that will assist patients with mild symptoms and those who are asymptomatic.

She said contact tracing is the only weak spot in the City’s Covid-19 response.

Ruiz herself experienced the slow response of contact tracers. She said she once had a meeting with a person, who later tested positive for Covid-19.

She said contact tracers were only able to contact her 11 days after the meeting.

“It was such a long time. I met a lot of people and was with my family during those 11 days,” Ruiz said in Cebuano.

Since the City currently doesn’t have enough contact tracers, the city councilor encouraged the public to disclose their identities if they are interviewed by contact tracers. Relatives of Covid-19 patients who were exposed and lied about their identities affect contact tracing efforts and they might end up spreading the virus in their neighborhood.

Ruiz also urged people who had direct contact with Covid-19 patients in the past seven days to isolate themselves.

The public and patients’ cooperation can help members of Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams, which are already overworked since they also disinfect houses, distribute goods, monitor patients and conduct contact tracing, she said.

She also recognized the help of Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong who conducted a seminar attended by officials of local government units in Cebu on how to contain the spread of Covid-19 through contact tracing. (KFD)


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