January 29, 2023

To speed up the process of tracing individuals who have had contact with confirmed coronavirus disease patients, City Mayor Benjamin Magalong plans to employ applicable techniques used by the police in interviewing witnesses or sources.
Magalong, a retired police general, said the plan aims to help health personnel in charge of contact tracing gather complete information that are crucial in determining individuals who have been in contact with the Covid-19 patients and isolating them immediately to contain the disease.
“Our contact tracers are doing a good job. But we found out that there are gaps, and we are now in the process of addressing those gaps,” the mayor said.
Magalong said one of the solutions is to make sure that each team of contact tracers composed of health workers is accompanied and assisted by an evaluator from the Philippine National Police, who is a police investigator with extensive training and experience on cognitive interviewing.
He said it was observed that many essential information are missed in the interview process during contact tracing, which cannot be blamed on the health workers.
“We should understand that contact tracing in the current situation is actually related to the trade craft of an investigator, who is trained on asking the right questions, looking at the body language, and going over and analyzing statements. So now they will be working together para lahat ng information na kailangan ay talagang makukuha natin,” Magalong said.
He said based on study, it turns out that only about 25 percent of needed information is obtained during the first round of questioning, therefore an interviewer had to help the interviewee recall what happened or refresh their memory.
The mayor added they are also coming up with a system using a technology, a link diagram application which facilitates analysis of contact chain.
“This will allow experts to analyze in one glance the relationship of a positive Covid-19 case with those he or she had contact with, either direct or secondary, as well as give information on the attributes of subsequent contacts such as who are they, where they live, their profession, age, and the like,” he said.
He added he does not want a repeat of reported incidents where positive Covid-19 patients lied and led to failure to trace those they came in contact with, and to more infected cases. – Hanna C. Lacsamana