NCR mayors deny contact tracing woes

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(FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 24) — Metro Manila mayors denied on Sunday they were lagging behind in contact tracing efforts in their respective areas.

This was the reaction of the local executives after contact tracing czar and Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong called them out over the supposed lack of contact tracers and transparency on reported COVID-19 cases.

According to Navotas Mayor Toby Tiangco, their test results come out within a day and contact tracing efforts are carried out immediately.

He said the city's data on COVID cases is usually higher than that reported by the Health Department.

"I think he was present in the previous meetings 'nung matataas pa 'yung case ng Navotas...I even complained to the DOH not because their case record is higher than ours, but I always tell them na mali ang record niyo kasi mas mataas 'yung actual cases namin kaysa doon sa records niyo," said Tiangco.

[Translation: I think he was present in the previous meetings when the number of cases in Navotas was still high...I even complained to the DOH not because their case record is higher than ours, but I always tell them that your records are wrong because our actual cases are higher than what you have in your records.]

San Juan Mayor Francis Zamora also said they have enough contact tracers in their city.

He said they currently have more than 50 active cases while there are 145 contact tracers.

"Ito ay sapat na bilang sa amin especially because as of yesterday we only have 52 active cases in San Juan. 'Di naman po kami nagkukulang, in fact we always had enough contact tracers because we believe contact tracing is vital in our fight against COVID-19, so we make sure na hindi tayo nagkukulang kailan man sa contact tracers," said Zamora.

[Translation: This is enough for us because as of yesterday, we only have 52 active cases in San Juan. We are never lacking because we believe contact tracing is vital in our fight against COVID-19, so we make sure we always have enough contact tracers.]

Meantime, Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian revealed in a text message to CNN Philippines that the Interior Department has pulled out the city's contact tracers.

"Despite the pullout of the DILG contact tracers, the city government still has enough contact tracers that are locally funded," he said. "Our number stands at 200 manning our mega contact tracing center. On top of this, our contact tracing efforts are expansive given that we use Valtrace, our own QR code contact tracing system."

He added that Magalong even praised their efforts in the past.

"A couple of months ago Mayor Magalong lauded our contact tracing efforts as being one of the best in the country and we have maintained the same operational levels and standards," says Gatchalian.

According to Magalong, the ideal ratio for contact tracing is one patient to 37 contacts.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque agreed with Magalong's sentiment, saying he would convince the Budget Department to fund the hiring of more contact tracers.

The Metro Manila Council, made up of all local chief executives in Metro Manila, and the MMDA will have their meeting Monday night to discuss possible changes in quarantine restrictions.