With coronavirus cases in Catanduanes topping the thousand mark last Friday, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has urged local government units to be more aggressive in the campaign against COVID-19, especially in contact tracing.
In Memorandum Circular 2021-91 issued Aug. 19, 2021, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año directed the LGUs to implement more aggressively the government’s Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat-Reintegrate+Vaccinate (PDITR+V) strategy and contact tracing initiatives to contain highly-transmissible COVID-19 variants.
Describing the country’s positivity rate of 25% as alarming, compared to the WHO standard of 5%, Sec. Año directed LGUs to reactivate their respective Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic (CODE) Teams in every barangay.
The CODE teams shall operate to actively and aggressively look for and detect known COVID-19 cases in the community and individuals who exhibit LOVID-19 symptoms, the circular stated.
The circular also enjoined LGUs to scale up their COVID-19 testing capacity by facilitating partnerships with government and private healthcare facilities and professionals to enable fast and frequent testing.
Immediately after confirmation of a COVID-19 case, regardless of variant, the LGU shall conduct contact tracing through the rapid mobilization of the contact tracing team.
“Contact tracing shall be done up to the third generation of close contacts, per recommendation by DOH,” Sec. Año said, with the tracing of the first generation of close contacts to be completed within 24 hours upon confirmation of the COVID-19 case.
“All close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 patients shall be immediately tested and isolated,” he added.
The LGUs are enjoined to hire additional contract tracers or to seek volunteers from the community, the circular said, with the DILG to augment the contact tracing capacity of LGUs.
It likewise urged the establishment of Temporary Treatment and Monitoring Facilities (TTMFs) to prevent household transmission and ease the burden on the capacity of local hospitals.
If necessary, the DILG said, LGUs should at least increase the capacity of existing Quarantine Facilities (QFs) in order to prepare for a surge in COVID-19 cases.
Aside from the strict enforcement of minimum public health standards, the LGUs are to continue the strict implementation of localized or granular lockdowns in areas where there is a high concentration of COVID-19 cases and to extend necessary support such as food packs to affected residents.
Two days after the DILG circular was issued, the country registered is highest daily total of new cases with 17,231 on Aug. 20.
On the same day, the number of coronavirus cases in Catanduanes reached the thousand mark with 1,001.
From 966 cases on Aug. 15, the total increased by 17 on Aug. 17, three each on the next two days and 12 on Aug. 20, for a five-day total of 35.
Last Saturday, two more cases were added, bringing the island’s cases to 1,003.
During the past week, Virac and Pandan had the biggest share of the new cases with nine (9) each, followed by Baras and Viga with four (4) each, Gigmoto and San Miguel with three (3) each, Bagamanoc and Caramoran with two (2) each, and San Andres with just one. Only Bato and Panganiban had no new cases.
Two families in Virac and Pandan were among the new cases as well as two employees of the Sunwest Water & Electric Co. in San Miguel town, and two department heads of the Viga municipal government.
Heeding the advice of health offciials, Viga Mayor Emeterio Tarin ordered the temporary preventive closure of offices at the main building of the municipal hall for a week from Aug. 23 to 27.
He directed all employees concerned to undergo self-quarantine and self-monitoring during the lockdown period but they could go out for essential purposes only but have to strictly observe health protocols.
“Employees seen roaming around without essential purpose will be made to explain and shall be dealt with accordingly,” Tarin warned.