News Release

LGUs tapped to conduct contact tracing in coronavirus fight

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte updates the nation on the government's efforts in addressing the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on May 4, 2020. TOTO LOZANO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Local government units (LGUs) should assist the national government in conducting contact tracing of individuals who might be infected with COVID-19 to halt its spread, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said on Monday.“So itong tracing trabaho talaga ito ng mga barangay (LGUs). And the police, sabi ko… But gusto kong anuhin ang pulis eh kaya lang times are not really normal. Talagang papatayin kayo ng NPA ‘pag makita kayo because they want your firearms,” President Duterte said in an address to the nation.

“Kaya lang hindi ko kayo mautusan mag-tracing, sana madali, may sakyan. Eh kaya lang delikado so dito na ako sa local governments, sa mga mayors. We are not asking you, we are requesting you to help us kasi hindi talaga kaya ng national government lang.”

The President said the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) would provide the guidelines on how the LGUs can help the national government in conducting contact tracing.

Aside from the conduct of contact tracing, the government is also carrying massive testing for COVID-19 based on the recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO).

WHO advised countries to follow the example set by South Korea, which has been successful in containing the spread of COVID-19. South Korea follows test, trace and treat policy in fighting the coronavirus.

Vivencio Dizon, the president of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) and the deputy chief implementer of the National Task Force COVID-19, said the Department of Health (DOH) has been pushing to ramp up testing in the country similar to what other countries are doing.

Dizon reported that currently, there are 20 laboratories operating in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. The goal of the government, however, is to build and operate 58 more laboratories.

“Right now po there are about 58 already in the advanced stages of accreditation, and that is really what we need to do po,” he told President Duterte.

“We need to speed up, and Secretary Duque emphasized this po, we need to speed up the accreditation of these labs in order for them to begin operation within the month of May.”

A RT-PCR test isn’t cheap, according to Dizon. Testing fee ranges anywhere between P2,000 to more P5,000 in private laboratories.

The DOH and the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) have also built mega-swabbing centers to collect specimens for massive testing.

As of Monday, the government reported that there were 9,485 cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines with 623 deaths. A total of 1,315 patients recovered from the disease. PND