South Cotabato launches contact-tracing app for COVID cases

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 18 June) – The provincial government of South Cotabato formally launched on Thursday its localized coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) contact-tracing system (CCTS) as it braces for the possible surge in confirmed cases in the coming weeks.

South Cotabato Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. said they were now ready for the full implementation of the system, which he described as the only missing link in the province’s fight against the spread of the disease.

Dubbed South Cotabato or SC-CCTS, he said its rollout completed the main requirements that they earlier set for the reopening of the province’s economy amid the continuing pandemic.

The other two were the establishment of a dedicated treatment facility and testing center in the province.

The local government opened in April its COVID-19 patient care center at the Soccsksargen General Hospital in Surallah town while its testing center, in partnership with the Dr. Arturo P. Pingoy Medical Center in Koronadal City, became operational two weeks ago.

“With these now in place, we can assure that our communities will be properly protected in case of possible outbreaks of COVID-19,” Tamayo said during the launching of SC-CCTS at the Ace Centerpoint Mall in Koronadal City.

SC-CCTS is a locally-developed “digitized or electronic logbook system” using Android and web-based application that was designed to fast-track contact-tracing in local establishments and offices for possible COVID-19 cases.

Under the system, which was backed by Provincial Ordinance No. 13, local residents will be registered and issued CCTS cards with unique quick response or QR codes that they may use when entering business establishments and offices.

Registered establishments will be given access to a mobile application developed by the provincial government to scan the CCTS cards.

The digital logs, which will be stored in a cloud server, will provide the name, contact number as well as date and time that a person enters an establishment, facilitating faster contact-tracing in case a COVID-19 case was detected.

Lawyer Renette Bergado, provincial administrator and co-chair of the SC-CCTS implementing committee, assured that all data encoded into the system are properly protected and will only have a life span of 60 days.

She said the data subjects have the required consent and will only be handled by designated data controller or protection officers from the Integrated Provincial Health Office’s (IPHO) epidemiology and surveillance unit.

“They are the only ones who have access to the information gathered and stored in the server, and these will only be used for contact-tracing purposes,” she said.

As of Thursday, the municipalities of Tampakan, Tupi and Polomolok have completed the registration of residents and establishments into the system.

The registration process was ongoing in other localities, with an overall target of 16,000 business establishments and offices.

As of Wednesday night, the province has already recorded 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with four recoveries.

The 11 active cases were only detected in the last two weeks, six since Monday, and all involving returning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and locally-stranded individuals (LSIs).

On Wednesday, the province recorded three confirmed cases – an OFW who arrived from Manila via Cagayan de Oro City last June 13 and two LSIs who also returned home from Manila on June 15 and June 17. (MindaNews)