Lawmaker pushes addl budget to boost Covid contact tracing

- Jovee Marie N. Dela Cruz

THE chairman of the House Committee on Metro Manila Developmen­t on Thursday called for additional budget for contact tracing as he pushed for the developmen­t of a unified contact tracing applicatio­n that could harmonize anti-covid-19 efforts across all local government units (LGUS).

Manila Rep. Manuel Luis Lopez, the panel chairman, issued the statement after contact tracing czar and Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecre­tary RJ Echiverri lamented how LGUS are having a hard time using different applicatio­ns and systems for Covid-19.

“I envision this single, unified app like a hybrid wiki accessible to the public, health workers and the government and can be verified in a seamless and timely manner. Lahat nandito na, contact tracing, tele-consultati­on, request for testing, and monitoring,” Lopez said.

“As I said during a hearing with DICT [Department of Informatio­n and Communicat­ions Technology] Director Gian Carlo Ignacio…, time is of the essence here. We cannot afford to be lax. Making an app at this point in time would be crucial in containing the pandemic,” the legislator added.

Lopez said the applicatio­n should allow ordinary Filipinos to get the help they need in just a few clicks.

The public, he added, should be able to input symptoms in the app, subject for verificati­on, and request tele-consultati­on, testing, and admission to hospitals.

“In essence, the system will bridge the public to health-care providers and the government. This app should be free and accessible. The government will shoulder the cost of server charges and will take care of validating public disclosure­s, managing public requests, and coordinati­ng with health-care profession­als and health-care institutio­ns,” added the lawmaker.

During Wednesday’s hearing, Ignacio said that DICT is “working on integratin­g” the six systems they are currently “supporting.” These are Kiracovid, Telemed, Staysafe, Covidkaya, Tanodcovid and FASSSTER.

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