Wednesday, 26 August 2020 13:56

Moreno stands by CHO´s contact tracing efforts

Written by Stephen Capillas with a report by Abigail Malalis

Mayor Oscar Moreno gave anew his vote of confidence on City Hall´s resident epidemiologist Dr. Teodulfo Joselito Retuya along with the City Health Office (CHO) and the Emergency Operations Cluster (EOC) concerning the city´s contact tracing efforts Saturday noon (Aug. 22).

“I respect (Baguio City) Mayor (Benjamin) Magalong for his achievements (and his designation as the country´s contact tracing czar). He must not be aware of our contact tracing efforts (and COVID-19 strategies) especially on how we handle our returning Kagay-anons. But I trust my epidemiologist,” Mayor Moreno said in reference to Dr. Retuya during Saturday noon´s press briefing.

During his visit to Iligan City, Mayor Magalong said Cagayan de Oro City´s contact tracing ratio of four to eight persons per COVID-19 patient is lower than the national standard of 36 contacts per COVID-19 case. As of Aug. 21 about 194 of the 239 cases are returning Kagay-anons classified as either locally stranded individuals (LSIs) or returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) or about 81 percent.

Also as of Aug. 21, Cagayan de Oro City registered 45 local cases of whom seven are active, nine are dead and 27 have recovered or about 18 percent. In an interview, Dr. Retuya said there are no studies establishing a ratio or fixed number required for tracing persons with exposure/contact to suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases.

“I have not read any books and studies or to that effect that there’s a standard ratio in contact tracing,” Dr. Retuya said. Dr. Retuya said they identify and narrow down the list of close contacts of COVID-19 cases based on their risk assessment which is whether they exhibit moderate to high risk symptoms.

All returning Kagay-anons arriving by air, land or sea are moved straight to the city´s isolation units to ensure they have zero contact with their families and communities, Dr. Retuya said. Since February, a citywide network of barangay health workers, community development volunteers and barangay nutrition was mobilized to conduct active barangay level health surveillance on suspected COVID-19 cases.

Dr. Retuya also said they are not closing their minds on Magalong’s ideas on how to improve contact tracing.

“As I said, during an epidemic or pandemic, there is no shortage nor monopoly of good ideas and suggestions,” he said.