‘Contact tracing as crucial as testing in war on Covid’

‘Contact tracing as crucial as testing in war on Covid’

MASS testing is important, but so is the contact tracing to combat Covid-19, an official of the Department of Health (DOH) stressed on Tuesday.

“We would like to highlight the contract tracing as part of our Covid response. We often say test, test and test but we are doing more aside from testing,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a virtual media forum for health reporters.

During the forum, Cebu City Mayor Edgar Labella attested that extensive contract tracing led to the discovery that 95 percent of the 1,749 Covid-19 patients were asymptomatic. “We have to underscore that contract tracing is a very important component to combat Covid -19,” Labella stressed.

On May 7, Cebu recorded a spike of cases at 200 in one day.

“Here in Cebu City we were able to come up with very effective and extensive contract tracing methods,” Labella said after the cases in the city surged. After the contract tracing, Labella said those who were in close contact with positive patients were immediately isolated.

“We were able to isolate 95 percent asymptomatic [persons] in our barangay isolation centers as part of our protocol,” he said, adding that their barangay isolation centers can accomodate 3,648 patients.

According to Labella, the successful contact tracing, by personnel from barangay health centers, city health office, DOH regional office and policemen, resulted in a low mortality rate of .091 percent.

The same methods, Labella said, were implemented in Cebu City jail where over 300 people were infected with the coronavirus.

The infected inmates were immediately isolated. They found out there were also asymptomatic detainees.

Labella said some of the patients are already on their way to recovery after observing them for 14 days.

Baguio’s experience

During the DOH virtual press conference, Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong also underscored the importance of contact tracing.

“We have to remember three things to have a successful contact tracing: first, speed is important. Every second matters. Second is quality of information and capacity of contact tracing.”

As a former police officer, Magalong compared the work to an investigation being conducted.

“Contact tracing is very similar to investigation. We establish the story behind every interaction,” he said, to be able to identify the potential high-risk or potential infected person contacted by a virus-positive individual, in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

“Early detection is key to prevention,” Magalong stressed.

For his part, Dr. Rio Magpantay, DOH-2 Regional Director, said it is a big challenge to find those who might be infected by the positive case.

“To prevent the transmission, we have to identify the close contact and isolate them immediately. We will check who that person cared for, lived with, transacted with or traveled with, and worked with,” Magpantay said.

Vergeire noted that persons deemed “close contact” are those exposed to infected persons less than one meter apart and within a close setting for hours.

Those falling in this category will be isolated for 14 days and monitored for symptoms. Only those showing symptoms will be tested as stated under DOH protocol, as prioritized for Covid-19 tests.

These include severe and critically ill, symptomatic individuals and those vulnerable sectors (e.g., 60 years old or older, have other illnesses such as hypertension and diabetes, or are immunocompromised).— Source: Claudeth Mocon-Ciriaco / businessmirror.com.ph

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