Manila, Valenzuela boost anti-COVID 19 efforts through digital technology

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 19) — The local government units of Manila and Valenzuela started to utilize digital platforms in their fight against the novel coronavirus disease.

The Manila LGU on Friday launched its Health Survey app which allows citizens to easily update their local health officials about the current health situation in their area.

The social media portal includes access to an online questionnaire only for Manila City residents, as well as official hotlines of the Manila Emergency Operations Center and the Department of Health.

Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso urged the people to complete the portal survey, including indicating mobile numbers for easy access by health authorities.

Huwag po kayo mahihiya. Huwag kayong matatakot. Ang mga datos na ibibigay niyo ay confidential lamang at tangan-tangan ng mga propesyonal dito sa Lungsod ng Maynila,” said Domagoso.

(Translation: Do not be shy. Do not be frightened. The data that you will provide are confidential in the hands of professionals here in the City of Manila.)

This initiative will also aid the city’s on-ground monitoring conducted by barangay officials, given the area’s vast population of almost three million people.

“Our capability to understand yours and your loved ones’ health situations in an open and transparent manner is a powerful means of quickly identifying persons who may need medical attention now," Domagoso said.

Domagoso added this portal can also link Manila residents to qualified medical professionals who can provide medical assessment, guidance, and advice.

Health Survey is accessible via Messenger of the official Facebook page of Domagoso.

But Domagoso clarified that Health Survey is “not a self-assessment test to self-diagnose” if the user suspects he is infected with COVID-19.

“If you think you are experiencing symptoms, call the hotline so you can be guided by a medical professional on what to do next,” he added.

As of March 20, Manila has 10 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 41 persons under investigation.

In Valenzuela, Mayor Rex Gatchalian spearheaded the automated contract tracing for suspected COVID-19 patients.

In an interview with CNN Philippines’ Pinky Webb, Gatchalian said that an officer from their city epidemiology surveillance units will plot all the information and contacts directly from the COVID-19 patient through a software.

He even cited what they did on the city’s lone COVID-19 case so far, where a team of epidemiologists went to the victim’s house to gather all information for contract tracing.

“We have a software wherein ipa-plot mo lahat ng impormasyon. Sino nakasalamuha? Saan nakatira? Sinu-sino? Para makita namin yung past, yung family tree. Para later on, kung may nagpositive uli, meron ba silang common na taong kinausap,” said Gatchalian.

(Translation: We have a software wherein it will plot all the information. Whom he/she got contact with? Where did they live? Who are those? So that we can see the past, the family tree. Later on if there’s a new person who turns out to be positive, we can identify if they have a common person they had contact with.)

The automated contact tracing in Valenzuela will also help identify a possible cluster source, if confirmed COVID-19 cases will spike in their locality.

“Remember in the guidelines, sinabi na kapag may community infection na at transmission, the mayor may opt (to cordon off) that barangay, that street, that zone as a separate quarantine area. Ila-lockdown natin sila mismo para hindi na sila makakalat pa sa siyudad,” added Gatchalian.

(Translation: Remember in the guidelines, it states that if there’s a community infection and transmission, the mayor may opt (to cordon off) that barangay, that street, or that zone as a separate quarantine area. We will lockdown the area to contain the spread of the disease in our city.)

Aside from its lone COVID-19 case, Valenzuela has 14 persons under investigation and 47 persons under monitoring.

The Philippines has 230 cases of COVID-19, with 18 deaths and eight recoveries.