The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Thursday said the government needs 82,537 contact tracers by next month to speed up the government’s “test-trace-treat” strategy in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Given that the there is still no vaccine or cure to Covid-19, the government needs to train and hire contact tracers who will break the chains of transmission of Covid-19 by identifying those who may have been exposed to the virus and monitoring them daily for 14 days,” Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said.

The DILG has forwarded a proposal to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease for the hiring and training of contact tracers, Año said.

“We are waiting for the approval of the IATF so that our local government units can start hiring and training contact tracers in their localities,” he said.

Año said it was better to be “one step ahead and be ready with the required number of contact tracers” rather than be “caught off guard” with a second wave of Covid-19 infections.

There are 52,463 contact tracers nationwide.

The DILG proposal stated the following qualifications for contact tracers: preferably graduates of a bachelor’s degree on allied medical courses, other health-related courses, or criminology; second priority maybe given to  applicants who have completed at least two years of college education in medical or criminology-related courses; said applicants shall preferably have one-year relevant experience and four hours relevant training.

DILG Undersecretary for Peace and Order Bernardo Florece Jr. on June 15 said that a total of 87,092 out of 94,534 contacts (92.13 percent) had been traced.

The country has recorded 27,799 Covid-19 cases, with 7,090 deaths and 1,116 recoveries, as of June 18. John Ezekiel J. Hirro