DILG to LGUs, PNP: Organize Contact Tracing Team in every LGU
With the government’s enhanced capacity for Covid-19 testing, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said local government units (LGUs), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) are ready to fully assist and cooperate with the Department of Health (DOH) in conducting expanded testing in the LGUs.
“Katuwang ng DOH ang mga LGUs, at ang local PNP at BFP sa pagsasagawa ng maayos, mabilis at sistematikong Covid-19 testing sa mga lokalidad,” said DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año.
He said that the expanded testing is crucial to implement the National Strategy to Defeat COVID which is to summarized as Detect, Isolate, Treat, and Reintegrate those that have been infected by COVID-19.
In Memorandum Circular 2020-073, Año said LGUs are to increase the number of their trained Contact Tracing Teams (CTTs) who shall identify and monitor suspected persons with known exposure and contact to confirmed Covid-19 cases to mitigate the possibility of contagion.
“Mahalaga ang papel ng CCTs para tuluyan ng bumaba ang kaso ng Covid-19 sa bansa. Nakasalalay sa kanila ang pagtukoy at pag-isolate ng mga nakasalamuha ng may sakit na Covid-19 at pagpapagamot ng mga Covid-19 positive,” he said.
The CTT in each LGU shall be led by the PNP Chief of Police and assisted by the City/Municipal Health Officer with a staff from the PNP city/municipal police station, the city/municipal health office and the Bureau of Fire Protection; the city/municipal disaster risk reduction management officer; the city/municipal barangay health worker; the barangay health emergency response team members; and the barangay public safety officer, as members.
In the same directive, the DILG Chief also said LGUs are also expected to ensure the functionality of their Ligtas Covid-19 Center or Community Quarantine Facility by ensuring a conducive environment for recovery, and with adequate medical personnel, facilities and medicines for Covid-19 patients.
He also said it is necessary to increase the number of LGU trained personnel who shall conduct swabbing and specimen collection to assist the Local Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit.
According to Año, all LGUs are required to submit a status report to the city/municipal COVID-19 Task Force (TF) which will send a regular action report to the Provincial and Regional TFs at 2:00 p.m. covering the time from noon on the previous day to noon on the same day.
The report should include the number of confirmed cases, how many trained staff for contact tracing, how many contact tracing was conducted, number of PUIs identified, isolated, and tested, how many Ligtas COVID-19 Center were established either by the LGUs or the national government, number of available PPEs, and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test kits.
Order of priority for testing
To perform expanded testing based on the order of priority, Año said barangay officials must use their existing census data to classify "at-risk" individuals and to prioritize contact tracing for those who were in close contact with the reported cases of COVID-19.
In the meantime, LGUs are also responsible for continuing contact tracing of those in touch with positive patients, maintaining strict adherence to self-quarantine and monitoring the status of positive cases, PUIs and PUMs.
Due to the increased demand for testing, Año said first priority will be given to in patients, including medical professionals and health workers who show severe to critical symptoms of COVID-19, who have known travel history or who have been in touch with a confirmed patient.
In the second priority are medical professionals and health care workers with mild symptoms and known exposure to a positive patient; and patients with mild symptoms of COVID-19 who are identified as high-risk with pre-existing medical conditions and/or are members of vulnerable groups (senior citizen, a pregnant woman with co-morbidities) and with known travel history or contact with a positive patient.
The third priority includes all asymptomatic medical professionals and health workers but with known exposure to a positive patient, and all asymptomatic patients with known travel history or contact to a positive patient.
He said the closest LESU in the area is mainly responsible for swabbing and gathering specimens. Local health units shall provide the LESU with the required technical and logistical support during the collection of samples.
Proper reporting of cases
Meanwhile, DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan E. Malaya urged (LGUs) to ensure proper reporting of actual cases in their respective areas of jurisdictions.
“Now that there are more COVID-testing kits available from various sources, it is very important for the LGUs to keep their database updated on the actual number of cases so that proper course of action will be provided to the concerned individuals and the people that they had recently come in contact with,” Malaya said.
“With expanded testing and proper reporting, we can have a clearer picture of the COVID-19 cases in the country. We can also have a more pragmatic course of national action so we can heal as one,” he added.
He expressed greater confidence that with more testing kits and accredited laboratories now available, the country is now closer to the Department of Health’s (DOH) target of 3,000-8,000 tests per day.
Among the new testing centers are St. Luke’s Quezon City and Bonifacio Global City; V. Luna Hospital in Quezon City; Medical City in Pasig City; The Makati Medical Center; and the Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory.