DILG tells LGUs to focus on contact tracing

<p>DILG Secretary Eduardo Año. <em>(File photo)</em></p>

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año. (File photo)

MANILA – In compliance with Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) Resolution No. 25, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is directing the local government units (LGUs) nationwide to focus on contact tracing of possible carriers of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año said the main focus for LGUs shall be the DITR steps -- "Detect, Isolate, Treat, and Reintegrate" the carriers in accordance with the National Strategy to Defeat Covid-19 of the IATF and NTF Covid-19.

“With the absence of the cure and the vaccine against Covid-19 for now, the fight against this virus is in contact tracing. It is urgent that LGUs identify the hosts or carriers of Covid-19 in every locality to prevent further spread of this deadly virus,” he said in a news release Wednesday.

He said all LGUs are advised to increase the number of Contact Tracing Teams (CTTs) to conduct contact tracing for all persons with known exposure to Covid-19 patients.

These teams will also monitor the status of suspects and probable Covid-19 cases, family members with known contact to a confirmed case to mitigate the possibility of contagion. These teams will report daily updates to the Covid-19 Provincial and Regional Task Forces.

The CTT per LGU is to be led by the Philippine National Police (PNP) chief of police and assisted by the City or Municipal Health Officer together with the Bureau of Fire Protection, local disaster risk reduction and management offices and the barangay health emergency response teams.

In DILG Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 2020-073, Año enjoined LGUs to increase the number of their trained personnel to conduct swabbing and specimen collection to assist the Local Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (LESU). The LGU personnel shall be trained by the Regional/Provincial/City/Municipal Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit.

After the conduct of the test, Covid-19 positive patients and probable cases will be confined to an isolation facility established by respective LGUs and shall be medically managed consistent to the guidelines set in Department of Health (DOH) Memorandum No. 2020-0108 entitled "Guidelines for Management of Patients with Possible and Confirmed Covid-19” among others.

Severe and critical cases, as well as mild but high-risk cases, are required to be in Level 2 and 3 Hospitals. Confirmed cases with mild symptoms and asymptomatic are to be isolated in Level 1 hospitals or Ligtas Covid-19/Isolation Center or the LGU- managed Temporary Treatment Facility.

These Ligtas Covid-19 Centers must be conducive for patients to fully recover from the disease and must have adequate medical and psychological support teams to address all the needs of the patients in isolation.

“After proper identification and isolation, LGUs must have proper specimen collection system and means to transport the specimen to laboratories,” Año said.

Honesty urged while privacy protected

Meanwhile, DILG spokesperson Undersecretary Jonathan E. Malaya said the agency is coordinating with the DOH in having a data-sharing agreement in accordance with the Data Privacy Act of 2012 to protect the privacy of people included in the contact tracing of the government.

Sinusunod po natin ang direktiba ng IATF-EID na ang contract tracing ay maging national-government-enabled, LGU-led at people-centered response. Kaya sisiguraduhin natin ang kapakanan ng mga tao kabilang nariyan ang (We are complying with the directive of the IATF-EID that contact tracing should be a national government-enabled, LGU led and a people-centered response. This is why we will make sure that the welfare of the people is upheld (including the fundamental right to privacy),” he said.

Malaya, however, said the government is appealing to the people, to be honest in disclosing their health condition.

“The government calls on the people to be honest in stating their symptoms and their recent contact with Covid-19 patients. This is not a joke. Lives are at stake. Don't be scared. The government is here to help you get treated,” he said.

Malaya reminded that Republic Act 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act makes it obligatory to report medical conditions that are of public health concern. (PR)