3,000 NCR execs, contact tracers plan to halt Delta spread

By Jerome Carlo Paunan

MANILA, (PIA) – (August 2, 2021) –  Some 3,000 barangay officials and contact tracers from the 17 local government units (LGUs) in Metro Manila have convened online in a bid to raise awareness and prevent the spread of the contagious COVID-19 Delta variant.

Dubbed as “Usapang Delta: Alamin, Unawain, at Labanan,” the special webinar streamed via Zoom and Facebook, the activity is an initiative of the Department of the Interior and Local Government-National Capital Region (DILG-NCR) to address the looming challenges and concerns brought about by the coronavirus variant.

The DILG-NCR said Metro Manila is the first region to conduct such intervention, which focused on further understanding how the Delta variant is being detected; the health protocols and restrictions to be imposed; and the responsibilities of barangay officials and contact tracers with regard to RA 11132 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.

Department of Health’s Metro Manila Center for Health Development Disease Surveillance Officer Jehan Ramos elaborated on these topics and explained that the whole genome sequencing is being conducted by the University of the Philippines – Philippine Genome Center.

Positive results and details of the variants, he said, are provided for case investigation of the DOH Epidemiology Bureau and then coordinated to the regional and local epidemiology and surveillance units for immediate contact tracing and isolation.

“Health protocols must still be enforced at all times regardless if variants are present in positive COVID patients or not,” Ramos said.

While the government is strengthening the implementation of PDITR (Prevent, Detect, Isolate, Treat, and Reintegrate) at the local level and augmenting the healthcare capacity, the DOH official reminded that the best defense against any COVID-19 variant is still the adherence to minimum public health standards and getting vaccinated.

The DOH and counterparts at the local level are also mandated by RA 11132 to establish a functional disease surveillance system and ensure the timely reporting of information of diseases present in the localities, including COVID-19 variants of concerns, to effectively enforce preventive measures and response.

Undersecretary for Operations Epimaco Densing echoed this in his message and enjoined barangay officials and contact tracers to strengthen their efforts to combat the virus.

Densing said preventing mass gatherings, which might become super spreader events, is critical to containing the spread of the Delta variant, and that preventing such gatherings is the responsibility of barangay officials as the first line of defense of the LGUs against local transmission of the disease.

Meanwhile, the DILG-NCR also recognized the critical role of contact tracers in breaking the chain of transmission of the virus. The management expressed its intent to continue advocating for the renewal of the contracts of these personnel pending the approval of the additional national budget for their salaries and hazard pay. (DILG/PIA-NCR)