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Duque orders ‘aggressive’ nCoV contact tracing

By: Christia Marie Ramos - February 05,2020 - 07:14 AM

Health Secretary Francisco Duque attends a Senate hearing on the outbreak of the 2019 novel coronavirus on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. (Photo by CATHY MIRANDA /


MANILA, Philippines — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has directed the Epidemiology Bureau to conduct an “aggressive” contact tracing of fellow passengers of the who tested a Chinese couple positive for the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) after senators scolded officials of the Department of Health over what seemed to be its slowness in reacting to the viral outbreak.

READ: Senators hit DOH for ‘failure of leadership’

Speaking with reporters after Tuesday’s Senate hearing into the government’s response to the global viral outbreak, Duque expressed hope that the aggressive contact tracing would be completed in 48 hours starting Wednesday.

“As soon as possible [I hope it would be finished]. As I told them, they have to work with the PNP [Philippines National Police], the DILG [Department of the Interior and Local Government] to do an aggressive contact tracing in 48 hours. We’ll see if they can manage to do that,” he said, speaking partly in Filipino.

“That was the position that Senator [Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa] had expressed,” he added.

During the hearing, Dela Rosa, a former chief of the PNP, suggested that the DOH could tap the police force to help it with its contact tracing.

Duque said the DOH would coordinate with the PNP so that the department would be informed of the cooperation and coordination “needed on the ground level.”

Duque earlier reported to the Senate health committee that the DOH had only so far reached out to 17 percent of passengers onboard the same flights as the infected Chinese couple.

READ: Duque says airlines ‘invoking confidentiality,’ on passenger records

He told senators that there are currently 17 epidemiologists “constituting a team with 40 surveillance officers” working on tracing individuals who came in close contact with the two Chinese nationals.

The Chinese couple, one of whom died over the weekend, accounted for the Philippines’ first two confirmed cases of the 2019-nCoV.

READ: DOH confirms 2nd case of nCoV in PH, says patient died Saturday

Both are from Wuhan City, the epicenter of the viral outbreak.



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TAGS: contact tracing, Department of Health, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III

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