DILG official says ‘all hands on deck’ to boost government’s contact-tracing ratio


AN official of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) admitted on Monday they are expecting a low contact-tracing ratio in face of the more transmissible Covid-19 Delta variant in the country.

DILG Undersecretary and spokesman Jonathan Malaya recalled that this also happened in April when a surge in cases was also registered. Ideally, the contact-tracing ratio should be between 1:30 and 1:37.

“While cases are rising, we need to contact trace more persons. So, I expect that the contact-tracing ratio would be low because of the surge,” Malaya said in Filipino during an online media forum of the Department of Health (DOH).

Nonetheless, Malaya said, contact tracers should be able to do their job.

“They have to do their work that is why all hands should be on deck,” Malaya stressed, even as he appealed for the cooperation of everyone by staying at home and by maintaining the practice of minimum public health standards.

Malaya, however, assured that there are “enough” contact tracers all over the country.

The DILG official said that there are a total of 255,854 contact tracers nationwide, “sufficient [enough] to meet our country’s needs.”

This figure, he said, is divided into 29,611 contact tracing teams across the country.

“What we need to ensure right now is that they are actually performing that is why I have been calling on our local government units [LGUs], through our field offices that they are actually doing active case finding,” Malaya stressed, adding that at any given time, there could be a close contact going elsewhere, like a vaccination site and could already be spreading the virus.

Recently, he said, President Duterte also approved the rehiring of 15,000 until the end of the year to boost contact tracing efforts.

Malaya also noted that prior to the increase in cases being currently experienced, contact-tracing ratio has improved “considerably because 94 percent of probable cases were traced daily and 91 percent were isolated within 24 hours.”

While Malaya expressed appreciation on the work of LGUs in ramping up the vaccination program during the current two-week lockdown, “we cannot, however, do this at the expense of active case finding.”

He also stressed that home quarantine is not allowed due to the threat of Delta variant.


Terry Ridon, Infrawatch PH convener, meanwhile, called on Duterte to revamp the leadership of the National Task Force on Covid-19 for their supposed “failure” to expand the country’s testing capability.

“Mr. President, there is no going around this. Your men failed to expand testing in the last five months. We have reached this point today because government has failed its March commitment to raise our daily testing capacity to 90,000 tests per day. With the new ECQ [enhanced community quarantine], our coffers will be depleted further. This is money that could have been better spent for vaccine procurement,” said Ridon who is also Duterte’s former urban poor chief.

Ridon added the failure to expand testing directly relates to the economic pause the country experiences during stricter quarantine restrictions.

“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that government compliance with its self-imposed commitment to raise the daily testing capacity to 90,000 tests per day costs way less than paralyzing the economic activity in the country’s major cities. It’s an absolute no-brainer,” he said.

RIdon said the country’s workforce could only bear so much economic disruption.

“Shops, restaurants and most economic activities have grinded to a halt. With the sources of cash aid still uncertain, government can ill-afford a prolonged ECQ,” he added.

Ridon cited that the government has failed to expand its daily testing capacity beyond 52,000 tests per day, despite the onslaught of the Delta variant.

“The current positivity rate of 20.3 percent is proof positive of government’s failure to focus on testing as a major pillar of the country’s coronavirus response. Nothing substantial has been done to expand testing and comply with its self-imposed commitment. Mr. President, natutulog sa pansitan ang mga tao natin.”

He added that the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a positivity rate below 10-percent but the in the last five months, he stressed the positivity rate of the country has not gone below 10-percent.

“With government’s failure to expand testing, we are unable to accelerate the detection of positive cases despite the higher virulence of the Delta variant,” he added.

Ridon said the current level of testing at around 51,000 tests per day had already been reached by the end of March, yet it has plateaued in the last five months.

“Breaching 20-percent positivity rate betrays government’s failure to implement the infrastructure needed to confront severe surges such as the current one engulfing the world,” he stressed.

Records from the DOH on Sunday showed that a total of 17,200,653 total tests have been conducted. There were 1,768,787 (10.94 percent) total positive individuals.

The DOH said that it is continuously validating the number of positive individuals as reported by the laboratories.

“When necessary, they are deduplicated. As such, the discrepancy with the number of confirmed cases do not necessarily reflect backlogs in case validation,” the DOH said adding that there were 375,330 total tests conducted this week.

For this week, the DOH said, an average of 53,619 samples were processed each day by 273 licensed Covid-19 testing laboratories.

From 1 August to 7 August 2021, a total of 65,214 specimens tested positive, which brings this week’s positivity rate to 18.6 percent. Of these, 6,792 (10 percent) came from labs in Region 7, and 25,420 (39 percent) came from labs in National Capital Region (NCR).

In terms of positivity rates, 20.3 percent of individual specimens (6,792 out of 33,508) tested positive in Region 7 labs, while 14.8 percent of individual specimens (25,420 out of 171,224) tested positive in NCR labs.

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