DOH stops contact tracing for coronavirus, shifts efforts to 'preparedness'
MANILA, Philippines – Philippine health officials have stopped tracking down other people who came into contact with the 3 Chinese visitors who tested positive for the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) while in the country in late January.
In a press conference on Wednesday, February 26, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said there would be no more contact tracing efforts in relation to the 3 cases because the 14-day incubation period for 2019-nCoV had long passed, and there were no other confirmed cases being reported so far.
Duque made the statement in response when asked whether the rest of the people who came into contact with the 3 confirmed cases were still the subject of contact tracing. During the briefing, it was learned that the Department of Health managed to trace 67% of these people so far.
Asked if the DOH was still looking for the other people that the 3 Chinese travelers had come into contact with while in the country, Duque said: “Wala na, kasi lampas na lampas ang incubation period natin.... There is no indication of the group or groups that might have been exposed to the 3 Chinese nationals, mukhang walang indication na nagkasakit sila. Kasi kung nagkasakit sila ay dapat nakita na ‘yan sa mga ospital natin,” said Duque.
(There will be no contact tracing for now because it’s way, way past the incubation period.... There is no indication that the groups that might have been exposed to the 3 Chinese nationals got sick. Because if they did, then our hospitals would have found out already.)
The DOH chief said the government would instead focus its efforts on strengthening the capacities of health facilities nationwide to prevent the spread of COVID-19 – the disease caused by the novel coronavirus – should another patient test positive for it.
“So doon na lang...level ng gamutan, doon na lang dapat ibuhos ang dapat ang lahat ng dapat isagawa ng DOH (So on the level of treatment, that’s where the DOH should focus its efforts),” Duque said.
The Philippines has so far recorded 3 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, all of them Chinese who arrived in the Philippines in January. One died, while the other two recovered.
The Philippine government came under fire during a Senate hearing on February 4, after it was revealed that there was an apparent lack of communication between the DOH, the Civil Aeronautics Board, and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines on contact tracing for possible COVID-19 cases.
As of 5 pm on Wednesday, there were 614 patients under investigation (PUIs) in the Philippines for possible 2019-nCoV infection. Of this number, 101 remained in health facilities across the country, while the other 510 were already discharged.
There is still no recorded local transmission of COVID-19 in the Philippines to date. – Rappler.com