LGUs to lead fight vs. COVID-19. Their first task: Contact tracing

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 18) — The inter-agency task force on the coronavirus disease has empowered local government units to lead the country’s battle against the pandemic.

“The IATF adopts the national government-enabled, local government-led, and people-centered response to the COVID-19 health event,” Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases spokesperson Karlo Nograles said in a televised briefing.

The IATF tasked all agencies “to recommend sector-specific plans, strategies, and targets” and directed its implementing arm, the National Task Force Against COVID-19, to “develop the necessary operational plans.”

Consistent with the latest policy, Nograles said the DILG, in coordination with LGUs, will now take over the government’s contact tracing efforts, a role previously held by the Office of Civil Defense.

“For this purpose, the Department of Health and the DILG are directed to enter into a data-sharing agreement in accordance with Republic Act 10173 or the Data Privacy Act,” Nograles said.

Contact tracing tool

To make contact tracing easier, the Department of Science and Technology, together with researchers from the University of the Philippines-Manila and the Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City, have developed a tracking system called TanodCOVID.

TanodCOVID is a self-reporting application, allowing constituents to report COVID-19-like symptoms to local health authorities by sending text messages to their LGU’s verified mobile numbers.

“Officials will then call concerned locals to verify the reports and ask for additional information, which might help the DOH,” the DOST said in a statement.

“Specifically, the TanodCOVID will enable LGUs to access report summaries, visualization, mobile numbers and addresses of those who reported symptoms,” it added.

LGUs interested to use the tracing tool can send a letter of intent to the fassster.covid@gmail.com, the DOST said.