By Billy Begas
The House Committees on Health and on Information and Communications Technology on Tuesday adopted the resolution urging the COVID-19 Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to establish a unified national contact tracing protocol to ensure a more effective health emergency data monitoring system in the country.
Speaker Lord Allan Jay Velasco, author of House Resolution 1536, said an effective and safe contact tracing system would help control the spread of the virus that has already claimed more than 12,500 lives and infected more than half a million people nationwide.
In November last year, the IATF issued a resolution designating StaySafe.ph as the government’s contract tracing application of choice, making its use mandatory in all national government agencies and instrumentalities and local government units.
The task force also promoted the use of the app in all other private establishments, facilities and offices.
However, some government agencies and private establishments use other contract tracing apps, resulting in confusion and data privacy concerns.
StaySafe.ph is currently being used by 8.5 million individuals, 700 LGUs and 184,000 establishments.
During the hearing it was learned that the Department of Information and Communications Technology, the Department of Health and the Department of Science and Technology have yet to adhere to the IATF-EID resolution.
Baguio City Mayor and Contact tracing czar Benjamin Magalong expressed frustration over the delay in the full implementation of the IATF-EID resolution.
“The national government acknowledged contact tracing application StaySafe and I myself was really surprised that suddenly here comes different types of application endorsed by different agencies and we’re not even consulted about it,” lamented Magalong.
Data shows that the Philippines is only able to identify at least seven contacts per coronavirus-infected person far from the ideal contact tracing ratio of 1:35 for urban areas and 1:30 for rural communities.