Philippine economy

Baguio mayor wants contact tracing to begin early

Frank Cimatu
Baguio mayor wants contact tracing to begin early
Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong says frontliners can do contract tracing of 'red flag' patients even before the results of the coronavirus test come out

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – Mayor Benjamin Magalong asked his frontliners here to conduct contact tracing even before the patient is confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus disease or COVID-19.

He said that at Baguio hospitals, there are 3 to 4 patients whom he called “red flags” or those who manifest the classic symptoms of COVID-19. One even died Thursday night, March 19, of severe pneumonia.

“The first thing I told them (frontliners) for highly-suspicious or very probable COVID cases, those red flags, you should do contact tracing,” he said.

Magalong said that they already conducted Thursday a crash course on cognitive interviewing to better parse more information for contact tracing.

“For our frontliners, they are medical people. If they interview as usual, they only get 25% of where the patient went or who they interacted with. The cognitive interview will get the other 75%,” he said.

Magalong said that if the medical personnel are busy doing other things, it would be best to hand the phone to them and let those who are knowledgeable of cognitive interviewing to do the contact tracing.

He said that waiting for the confirmation results would be too late, especially for those outside Manila.

He said that for confirmation, you need 3 tests which would take 8 days.

“We could not afford to wait,” he said.

He said that for the 4 red flags in the city, he has already talked to the barangay officials where they reside and asked them to interview who the patients interacted with.

He said that Baguio, which has the Baguio General Hospital that is one of the 5 provincial sentinel hospitals trained by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) to do confirmatory testing of COVID-19, was initially given only 100 test kits.

Magalong said that SM Foundation promised 1,000 more test kits.

“If possible, we are going to buy our own kits,” he said. –

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