Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Editorial: Boosting contact tracing

NATIONAL Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19 policy chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. commented on Wednesday, November 18, during the National Coordinated Operations to Defeat Pandemic (Code) Team virtual presser that there is a need for the local government units in the region to improve their contact tracing efforts.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the goal of contact tracing "is to stop transmission of the virus by reducing the number of people who are circulating with the virus."

WHO defines contact tracing "as the process of identifying, assessing, and managing people who have been exposed to a disease to prevent onward transmission."

In her State of the City Address, Davao City Mayor Sara Z. Duterte-Carpio admitted that contact tracing was quite difficult for the city.

"Contact tracing has been particularly challenging," she said.

In a previous reports, health and local government authorities have said among the challenges faced by those conducting the contact tracing is the dishonesty of some of the Covid-19 patients. It also visible that those filling out contact tracing forms are not providing the needed information. This is mainly due to worries over their privacy.

There is also the issue with the manpower then.

In response to the contact tracing challenges, the Department of the Interior and Local Government has augmented 1,500 personnel to assist in the city's contact tracing efforts.

The mayor also said the city aims to improve its contact tracing with the support of the implementation of the SafeDavao QR (DQR) code. With a QR code, at least the information of the individuals is correct. Also, this reduces the use of pen and paper at establishments. Based on the experiences of other local government units, there have been successes with the use of QR codes in contact tracing.

It is a good thing that despite the initial setbacks of the DQR, we are seeing some improvements after the city suspended it and had it fixed. We just hope that the city and the information and technology firm it tapped has also put in place necessary security nets to protect the information that the people have shared through the DQR.

Contact tracing, coupled with improved testing and setting up of isolation facilities, plays a key role in the management and control of the Covid-19 pandemic. The faster our health and local authorities are able to detect Covid-19 patients, the faster it will be able to stop transmission. The faster Covid-19 patients are detected, the faster they will also be treated. We are hoping for the best when it comes to the contact tracing efforts of the city government of Davao and the local health authorities.


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