(July 13, 2020) — President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed another retired general in the government’s effort to defeat the coronavirus, a government spokesman said on Monday as private hospitals in the capital declared full capacity to treat the deadly disease.
Retired police general and Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong was named as the country’s new contact tracing czar in a bid to restructure the government’s contact tracing efforts for COVID-19, spokesman Harry Roque said.
Magalong, who was lauded for the Baguio City’s COVID-19 response, allayed fears that his new post would affect his role as mayor.
“Ang ating mga ekonomiya ay inter-dependent kaya kailangan nating magtulungan. Tayo ay tinatawag ng ating pilosopiya na ‘We work as one, we heal as one,'” Magalong said during a press briefing at the Malacañan Palace.
The former head of the Philippine National Police investigation and detection group said it will employ Baguio City’s contact tracing e-system to boost efforts to early locate, isolate and treat COVID-19 patients. He explains that the success of contact tracing lies on effective interviewing.
Magalong was introduced as contract tracing czar to improve government’s response to defeat the virus as three large private hospitals said they have full capacity in treating COVID patients
“‘Yung ating skills training, diyan po natin ii-introduce ‘yung tinatawag nating cognitive interviewing skills para talaga pong mas maayos po ‘yung pagtatanong and at the same time, natutulungan po ‘yung positive patients na i-recall ‘yung insidenteng nangyari two weeks ago para mas madali po nilang matandaan kung sino po ang kanilang mga na-contact at saan sila nagpupunta,” Magalong said.
The contact tracing e-system has three components—data collection tool, geographic information system or GIS platform and link analysis. The system is able to establish patterns, relationships and networks, in order to identify emerging areas of threat.
“Para po maintindihan po natin saan po nangyayari ‘yung mga insidente? Sino po ‘yung mga nako-contact? Sino po ‘yung kailangan nating i-follow-up pa.”
“Gusto ko lang pong banggitin sa inyo na radically babaguhin po natin ‘yung structure ng ating contact tracing system,” he said.
Just last week, Magalong led a five-man team to help Cebu City in its contact tracing efforts after the Health Department noted an alarming spike of COVID-19 infections in the city.
Last month, Baguio City reopened 70 percent of its economy after losing 2 billion pesos due to the pandemic.
To date, Baguio City has seven active cases, two deaths and 44 recoveries based on available data from its COVID-19 monitoring website. (Tony Castelltort/MM)
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