The Duterte administration has hired 46,338 contact tracers (CTs) to suppress the spread of COVID-19 in the Philippines, which has the second-highest number of cases in Southeast Asia.
The Department of Interior and Local Government announced today that the number is only “a few thousands shy” of its target of hiring 50,000 contact tracers, which was mandated by the law.
The CTs have already been deployed to various local government units all over the country. Prior to their hiring, the government has already deployed 97,400 tracers to various regions.
“Our battle against COVID-19 is likely to be a long haul until our medical experts find a vaccine and a cure. With the help of the 46,338 CTs who are now embedded in the localities, the task of fighting and containing the virus will be much easier and will be carried out more efficiently,” Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said in a statement.
“They will contribute a lot in our fight against COVID-19 and [they will help] reach our target of becoming a COVID-free country,” he added in English and Filipino.
He added that there are now 6,664 “qualified” applicants vying against each other for the remaining 3,662 openings for CTs. The remaining open slots are expected to be filled within the week.
The National Capital Region, considered the epicenter of the pandemic in the country, was given 7,362 tracers. This was followed by Region III with 5,026; Region VII with 4,241; 3,679 for Calabarzon; 3,306 for Region VI; Region IX with 3,267; Region XI with 3,041; Region V with 2,736; Caraga with 2,544; and, 2,000 for Region X.
Meanwhile, 1,529 tracers were deployed to Mimaropa; 1,501 were sent to Region XII; 1,480 to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao; 1,445 to Region I; 1,395 to Region VIII; 1,215 to Region II; and 571 to the Cordillera Administrative Region.
CTs are responsible for conducting interviews, profiling, performing an initial public health risk assessment of COVID-19 cases and their close contacts; sending close contacts to isolation facilities, monitoring these contacts; and other tasks.
The Philippines has 409, 574 COVID-19 cases as of yesterday, including 7,839 deaths and 374,366 recoveries.
The Department of Health said that it is seeking approval from President Rodrigo Duterte to exempt them from the country’s procurement laws, which prohibits paying for any goods and services in advance, so they could buy COVID-19 vaccines for indigent Filipinos. The agency said this after Pfizer revealed that its candidate vaccine was 90% effective during clinical trials. Yesterday, American pharmaceutical company Moderna said that its vaccine is 94.5% effective in preventing COVID-19, raising hopes that the pandemic’s end is in sight.
This article, PH gov’t hires at least 46,000 contact tracers for COVID-19 response, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company.