Some 11,515 individuals were contact traced and swabbed by the Quezon City health department (QCHD) from December 14 to 19, surpassing the weekly target of 7,500 swabbed individuals set by the national government.

“We’re able to reach as many residents as needed and exceeded the National Task Force’s target by 53 percent because of our continuous expansion in terms of contact tracing and testing. This is our response as we observed a continuous increase in the number of COVID-19 positive cases as the holidays approach,” said Dr. Rolando Cruz, head of the City’s Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance Unit (CESU).

He added that the CESU is currently swabbing more residents, especially frontliners such as market vendors and grocery employees because they work in necessary establishments accessible to the public.

“Those who work in markets and groceries are among the usual reported contacts of our positive patients. We understand that more people are preparing for the holidays hence, these said places are among the most frequented too,” said Cruz.

CESU and QCHD are also working in partnership with Project Ark, a private sector led initiative, to conduct pooled testing in markets. In total, over 112,000 PCR tests were conducted by the city including the pooled testing.

The city has around 1,800 trained and hired contact tracers, as of writing. Cruz said some of them were recruited with support and funding from the Department of Interior and Local Government.

Joseph Juico, Head of QC Task Force on COVID-19, also shared that the city has reached the ideal 1:30 contact traced individuals in the past week.

“At one point, we are at 1:30 but given the increase of positive cases, we are now at 1:24 ratio which is still a feat. The more people we trace, the faster we stop the transmission of the virus,” Juico said.

Juico also expressed the city government’s gratitude to the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) led by Sec. Vince Dizon who is also the testing czar of COVID-19 for facilitating swab testing in the city.

“BCDA has greatly helped us conduct more tests and through testing, we will be able to revive our economy and in turn boost consumer confidence,” said Juico.

However, the city continues to reiterate its reminders to its citizens to practice basic health protocols especially during this holiday season.

“While we are continuously improving our COVID-19 response, we will not stop reminding our people to be responsible and to do their part in this battle. COVID-19 virus is still in our city and we must not in any way relax our defenses,” Mayor Joy Belmonte said.

Belmonte appeals to the residents to defer visits to other relatives and consider online parties as an alternative.