City Government of Valenzuela
18 August 2020 – present
Management for Productivity, Quality, and Agility, and Perspectives on Productivity, Governance, and Development
On August 18, 2020, the City Government of Valenzuela established a Mega Contact Tracing Center to strengthen its capacity to identify, monitor, and isolate potential COVID-positive cases in their jurisdiction.
Background and Problem
The World Health Organization (WHO) defined contact tracing as the process of identifying, assessing, and managing people who have been exposed to known infected individuals, allowing authorities to manage potential virus transmission through rapid identification, isolation, and clinical care of cases (World Health Organization, 2020). According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, public health departments have used contact tracing for decades to slow or stop the spread of infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis (TB), HIV, and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
In April 2020, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) issued Resolution 25, assigning the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), in coordination with local government units (LGUs), to lead the contact-tracing efforts of the government to address the rapidly spread of COVID-19. As the main actors on the ground, LGUs serve as the implementers of these efforts.
However, the Philippines was tagged by the WHO in May 2020 for having inefficient and ineffective contact tracing, hampering any possibility of mitigating the spread of COVID-19. As of 30 July 2020, only 1% out of the nearly 600 LGUs in the country have a relatively good system of contact tracing, with LGUs increasing the number of contact tracing staff for the purpose of substantial compliance rather than ensuring the proper establishment of the system (Inquirer, 2020).
Solution and Impact
The Mega Contact Tracing Center, operated by the Valenzuela City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (CESU), is a call center and coordination hub staffed by a team of 100 data encoders and disease surveillance personnel. It implements a contactless approach, extracting and collecting the necessary information—local travel history, number of household members, etc.—from target individuals via phone calls and emails.
The Center also has a separate team for field work composed of swab testers, registered nurses, and doctors, who work closely with Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams (BHERTs) to assess and monitor identified COVID-positive cases and, when necessary, extract and endorse them for hospitalization.
The Valenzuela City Health Office (CHO) has trained the Mega Contact Tracing Center staff in proper disease surveillance, handling data privacy, and the use of the ValTrace App, a contact tracing platform launched by the Valenzuela LGU that utilizes QR codes and location history to establish potential points of contact and exposure for persons under investigation.
Launch of the Valenzuela City Mega Contact Tracing Center on 18 August 2020 (Source: City Government of Valenzuela)
Valenzuela City Mega Contact Tracing Center (Source: City Government of Valenzuela)
Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). Training and Workforce Development for
COVID-19 Case Investigation and Contact Tracing.
CMFR. (2020, December 24). Another LGU best practice: Inquirer reports Valenzuela’s contact
tracing. Manilanews.net. https://www.manilanews.net/news/267339860/another-lgu-best-
Gonzales, C. (2020, July 30). Less than 1% of 600 LGUs have ‘relatively good’ contact tracing
system — Magalong. Inquirer.net. https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1314330/less-than-1-of-600-lgus-
Madarang, C.R.S. (2020, August 12). The DOH has no contact tracing team. Here’s why.
Porciuncula, A.R. (2020, October 20). DILG Reinforces Valenzuela City’s COVID-19 Response
with Additional Contact Tracers. Official Website of the City Government of Valenzuela.
Porciuncula, A.R. (2020, October 6). Valenzuela City Opens 24/7 Mega Contact Tracing Center.
Official Website of the City Government of Valenzuela.
World Health Organization. (2020, July 28). Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Contact tracing.