Gov't mandates use of StaySafe contact tracing app in local, national level

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 27) — The country's COVID-19 task force has mandated national government agencies and local government units to use StaySafe, the government’s preferred contact tracing application.

Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases Resolution No. 85, issued on Friday, ordered the adoption and use of the app at both the national and local level. It also urged private establishments and local governments using their own apps to track down contacts of COVID-19 patients to integrate their system to StaySafe.

About two million Filipinos have registered in the platform, while around 3,000 businesses have also enlisted to use the locally-developed app as their digital log book. The government launched StaySafe in April to improve contact tracing efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19. The platform, which can be accessed through its website or be downloaded on smartphones, requires users to register through their mobile numbers. Just like a health declaration form, they will be asked to choose which among the symptoms of COVID-19 applies to them to determine their health condition.

Data collected is stored in the Department of Health’s database, which could be accessed by contact tracers. Information collected can help the government determine the COVID-19 response especially in areas with a high number of infections.

The IATF said all data previously collected through other digital contact tracing applications used by DOH-accredited COVID-19 health facilities and local governments should be submitted to a centralized tracing data repository, which will be linked to either COVID-Kaya or the COVID-19 Document Repository System (CDRS).

Contact tracing czar Benjamin Magalong recently acknowledged that the country's efforts to trace contacts of infected persons remain weak almost 10 months after the Philippines confirmed its first case of coronavirus infection. He said the perceived weakness — an observation made by the World Health Organization — is mainly because some local governments still manually encode data.

The Philippines has recorded 424,297 COVID-19 cases as of Thursday. Of the total infected, 28,789 or 6.8 percent are currently ill patients, the DOH said.