Authorities in the Central Visayas are looking for gossips, the good kind, who will help them trace COVID-19 patients and their contacts. Its proponent said he was adding humor to harness a Filipino passtime into a pandemic-fighting tool.
Gossip or "chismis" should guide authorities and should not be the hurtful or disparaging kind, Brig. Gen. Albert Albert Ignatius Ferra told DZMM. His area of jurisdiction includes Cebu City, the only area in the country under modified enhanced community quarantine or MECQ, where stay-at-home orders are stricter.
"We need some humor. Ang laban kasi sa COVID, not necessarily laban ng police at military. Laban ito ng lahat ng Pilipino, kahit small gossip, small chismis (The fight against COVID is not for the police and the military alone. This is the fight of all Filipinos, even through small gossip)," Ferra said.
Tips on who in the community are suffering from fever and cough -- symptoms of the disease -- "are important things" to contact-tracers. "We make use of those stories because it will help each Filipino save lives."
"Importante ito sa panahon ngayon (This is important during these times). This is a responsibility of all Filipinos. Ako, ineencourage ko lahat ng police dito (I encourage all policemen), all of us will be contact tracers," he said.
"Yung tamang storya lang ang gagamitin hindi yung mapanira sa tao (We will only use the right stories, not the destructive kind)," he said.
Contact-tracing is part of the government's four-point COVID-19 strategy of test, trace, isolate and treat. Confirmed cases breached the 70,000-mark this week and Metro Manila has until the end of July to slow infections or risk returning to a lockdown or MECQ.
President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to focus on COVID-19 when he delivers his penultimate State of the Nation Address on July 27. Earlier this week, he reminded the public to wear face masks in public or risk arrest.