The government aims trace at least 37 contacts of every COVID-19 patient during the modified enhanced community quarantine as part of efforts to slow the spread of the disease, the Department of Health said Wednesday. Brangay officials will go house-to-house for this effort.
This new contact tracing strategy is similar to the one employed by Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, also the country's Tracing Czar, Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire said. The mountain resort city has been relatively successful in containing the outbreak.
The Baguio strategy was based on India’s RABI model, where they "did house-to-house and they were able to identify all symptomatic [cases], they were able to test them and even their contacts, and somehow they were able to contain the transmission," she told ANC.
Authorities and officials in priority barangays in Metro Manila will test this new strategy, along with Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, and Bulacan are also under MECQ until Aug. 18.
“There are different officials going on the ground, and together with the local health officials, we will be able to identify symptomatic [patients] in barangays and we will be able to isolate them. We should be able to trace at least 37 persons,” Vergeire said.
Instead of relying on patients to approach health centers, hospitals, and officials, authorities will instead take a more proactive approach to tracking patients and contacts.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque told CNN Philippines on Wednesday that these 37 individuals would be subjected to the RT-PCR test, the gold standard in COVID-19 testing, and not just rapid tests.
"They basically have geographical locations, so they only follow up on COVID-positive patients within their area. If there are individuals outside their area, then they forward the information to their teammates operating in that area," Roque said.
Roque said the government is planning to do pool testing, where specimens from 5 to 10 individuals can be combined and screened for the virus using just one test. It could start in Makati City as early as Aug. 6, he said.
“If we are able to implement this on a nationwide basis, then I think we would be able eventually to curb the rise of incidents because we would be prolonging case doubling rate of the disease,” he said.
As of Aug 4., the country has recorded a total of 112,593 cases, with 66,049 recoveries and 2,115 deaths.