President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday police should help contact tracing efforts as part of intesified efforts against COVID-19. Policemen have the resources to assist barangay officials in lookng for suspected cases and their contacts, he said.
Duterte said tracers need transportation and allowances to do their job. Police can step in when these resources are lacking, he said in his weekly address to the nation.
“At hinihingi ko sa inyo, tumulong lang kayo rin sa ating bayan (What I ask of you, help the nation). Walk the extra mile to help our country,” Duterte said late Monday night.
Checkpoints and quarantine passes were reinstated in MECQ areas Metro Manila, Laguna, Cavite, Rizal, and Bulacan until Aug. 18. Crossing boundaries is prohibited unless for work and transportation of essentials. Duterte asked the police to assist contact tracers at boundaries.
“Ihatid sila ng pulis doon sa boundary. Beyond that, ibang pulis na naman ang magsasalo sa kanila para hanapin ‘yung tao. Because the police have the resources there pati ‘yung barangay captains na malaman nila kung saan ito nakatira (Police should bring them to the boundary. Beyond that, other police will assist them to find the person. Because the police have the resources there, even barangay captains know where the contact lives.),” Duterte said.
“Pero kung wala (But if there is none), then the police has to sacrifice and contribute to the solution of the problem now,” he said.
The country has a four-point COVID-19 strategy: test, isolate, treat, and trace. There have been efforts to raise national testing capacity, construct more quarantine facilities, and increase bed capacity in hospitals to treat moderate to severe cases. However, contact-tracing efforts need to be strengthened.
With an efficient contact-tracing strategy and only 152 recorded cases, Baguio City serves as a model when it comes to tracing and containment efforts. Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong has been appointed as the country’s tracing czar following the improvement of Baguio’s situation.
For every positive case, Magalong said 30 to 35 contacts must be traced in urban areas and 25 to 30 in rural areas. If contacts remain untraced, they could be at risk of spreading COVID-19 to more people. He stressed that it was crunch time and that the government must act fast to arrest the spread of the virus.