NCR Plus needs aggressive Covid testing, contact tracing


In early August, Cebu City has reported over 400 new cases of coronavirus infections daily.

This week, Cebu City’s Covid-19 cases dropped to less than 200 as its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) continue to implement measures such as speedy contact tracing and aggressive testing.

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chair Benjamin Abalos Jr pushes for a similar approach done in the NCR Plus (National Capital Region with Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal).


MAKATI CITY — In recent weeks, Cebu City cases had been hovering at over 200 daily and according to a Department of Health Region 7 (DoH-7) report, there were 172 new cases in Cebu City as of 29 August and 115 new cases as of 30 August. The number of cases started to drop to below 300 starting 21 August.

Cebu City Emergency Operations Center (EOC) chief councilor Joel Garganera attributed the significant drop in Covid infections in the city to the intensified implementation of pandemic response measures as well as stricter enforcement of minimum health safety protocols and quarantine restrictions that helped in slowly bringing down cases that reached over 400 in early August 2021.

Mr Garganera revealed that with a turnaround time of 24 hours, the EOC was able to immediately conduct contact tracing of index cases by their contact tracing team. They swabbed and took samples of household members and other first generation contacts of index cases. For second generation contacts, they tested only those experiencing symptoms.

The EOC had divided Cebu City into five areas—north, south, east, west and central. Contact tracing teams are stationed in the strategic areas so that they could immediately do contact tracing after receiving the list of positive individuals.

“Our intervention is faster because they can be tested,” Mr Garganera said.

He explained that testing can help bring down cases because they immediately isolate the homes of the positive cases or bring them to a barangay isolation facility. In areas where there are clusters of cases, EOC will immediately isolate the houses of positive individuals.

In view of Cebu City’s experience, the MMDA is urging for an aggressive conduct of contact tracing and testing of first generation contacts in the NCR Plus area.

Mr Abalos added that metro local government units (LGUs) should focus on areas where there is breach of protocol based on the data gathered from positive cases.

“Close contacts must be traced and tested within 24 hours,” he stressed.

Mr Abalos said that various concerned sectors should discuss the implementation of health protocols—while the cooperation of the barangays, the police, and other sectors are needed—because this is an important key in the fight against Covid-19. (TRC/JuanManila)

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