Gov't to tap cops for contact tracing, says Palace
The government will tap the Philippine National Police (PNP) to conduct contact tracing of those who have exposure to coronavirus disease patients, Malacañang said on Wednesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque acknowledged that the administration has to recruit more contact tracers as soon as possible.
"We need that as soon as possible, but learning from the experience of Baguio, Mayor (Benjamin) Magalong did not have to recruit additional personnel. He is using actually the PNP for contract tracing which is something that we will also implement here," he said in an interview by CNN Philippines.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has designated Magalong as the contract tracer czar after his effective implementation of contact tracing in Baguio City.
Roque said the PNP leadership has signified its "conforme" in allowing the cops to help in contact tracing.
"They are in the process of training the police officers that will act as contact tracers. The beauty in the Magalong formulation is while local government units can hire and pay for additional contact tracers up to a 150,000 of them, the police, because they are already employed by the government, can be tapped to do the same chore without additional renumeration," Roque said.
He said it would be up to the PNP to determine the number of personnel who could help in contact tracing.
In Baguio, Roque noted that the city was divided into clusters and the police who are working in each group were told to perform contract tracing.
"So they just operate within their geographical unit," he said.
He also said based on Magalong's strategy, all those who have been identified to have close contact with the person who is COVID-19 positive need not only isolate themselves but they have to be given RT-PCR tests. One contact tracer is equivalent to 30 to 37 individuals, he added.
Out of 150,000 target contact tracers, the Department of Health has so far recruited only 77,000. Celerina Monte/DMS