In a bid to hasten its contact tracing efforts, the Quezon City government urged all public and private hospitals and laboratories to submit directly to the city a copy of the ‘line list’ or roster of individuals who were tested for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) as soon as possible.

The line list is used as basis in monitoring close contacts of probable and suspected cases, and in notifying them to promptly isolate, said Dr. Rolly Cruz, head of the City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (CESU).

“We are requesting hospitals, laboratories, and other disease reporting units in QC to provide us with the line list as soon as they can, and on a regular basis,” said Cruz, adding that contact tracing can be immediately conducted if they have the list on hand.

He said that it has been a challenge for CESU to conduct contact tracing because there is a three to four day delay in the data forwarded to the city by the Department of Health (DOH).

“We have to be proactive and get the line list from other sources aside from the national government,” said Cruz.

According to Joseph Juico, lead coordinator of the city’s covid response program, the delay in contact tracing due to the lack of data can cause damaging ‘ripple effects.’

“If data is incomplete and delayed, instead of nipping infections in the bud, we end up locking down whole communities for 14 days, because the virus has already spread.

If we have patients’ complete contact details immediately, we can prevent them from infecting others and arrest community transmission,” Juico said.

Mayor Joy Belmonte emphasized that it is high time that private and public health institutions collaborate towards improving data gathering and recording.

“When data is incomplete and reported late, the response of the city suffers. Adding more contact tracers and facilities is futile if the data is too poor to be of any use. Good and timely information is key to overcoming this disease,” said Belmonte.

The urgent appeal was made parallel to the efforts of the DOH in improving efficiency in the management of COVID-related data.

Over 100 representatives from public and private hospitals, and laboratories in QC, heeded the call to work more closely with the City Health Department (CHD) and CESU towards this end.