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WeTrace app required for workers going to and from Cebu City
By: Mylen Manto, Eleanor Valeros | Published Wednesday, August 05, 2020
WeTrace App Developer Eddie Ybañez presents to Gov. Gwen Garcia and Cebu mayors the system that will process the Work Travel Pass for workers living in Cebu Province who will return to their respective jobs in Cebu City. (Lito Tecson)

Workers living in the Province of Cebu but are working in Cebu City will have to download the WeTrace mobile application as a requirement to the issuance of a Work Travel Pass (WTP) that must be presented at border checkpoints.

Local government units are urged to encourage their constituents to install the mobile application (wetrace.ph/download) in their smartphones for better location-tracking, patient-mapping, case-reporting, and dissemination of legitimate alerts and messages, among other vital purposes.

Governor Gwendolyn Garcia is set issue an Executive Order (EO) on the use of the WeTrace app and the WTP issuance which will provide additional mitigating measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the Province.

In a meeting with the mayors and Cebu police officials on Tuesday, August 4, the mayors agreed to retain the border controls between Cebu City and Cebu Province to prevent another spike in Covid-19 cases in the Province, much like what happened in April 2020 when both localities were placed under the same quarantine status and border controls were lifted.

Garcia also told Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) Director Roderick Mariano to impose stricter border controls between Cebu City and Cebu Province after reports of those from Cebu City were able to slip through the border checkpoints without proper documents.

Present in the meeting were League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) Cebu Chapter President and Liloan Mayor Christina Frasco, City of Naga Mayor Kristine Chiong, Carcar City Mayor Mercedita Apura, Talisay City Mayor Gerald Anthony "Samsam" Gullas, Toledo City Mayor Marjorie Perales, and a representative of Bogo City Mayor Carlo Jose Martinez.

Also present were Mariano and Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Deputy Regional Director for Operations Police Colonel Randy Peralta.

Earlier, the governor issued EO 20 establishing the protocols to be followed as the Province was put under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) while Cebu City remained under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). The EO also enumerated who are exempted from the Province's border controls.

Now that Cebu City has been downgraded to GCQ, many establishments have reopened and workers who are living in the Province have to go back to work.

But because Cebu City continues to have the most number of active cases in Central Visayas, workers are still strongly encouraged to stay in Cebu City. If they have to return home after work, they have to download the WeTrace application which is available for Android, IOS, and Huawie phones.

Garcia said that WeTrace is developed for free by Eddie Ybañez, a Department of Science and Technology (DOST) scholar, and will help in contact tracing.

Ybañez said the application will record those who came in contact with a person found to be Covid-19 positive for the last 16 days.

Once a worker will choose to return home, Garcia said it is compulsory that he or she have to keep his or her phone's bluetooth on to keep the tracking going. 

She said science and technology will be used to complement the traditional way to fast-track the contract tracing of each Covid-19 case.

Meanwhile, Garcia met with Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Chief Brigadier General Albert Ignatius Ferro on Wednesday, August 5 for a presentation of the Regional Integrated Content Tracing Operations Center (RICTOC) of PRO 7 to support collating of data on contact tracing which is one of the "Test, Trace, Treat" or T3s, a strategy of the national government geared to control further the rise in Covid-19 cases.

Ferro said artificial intelligence or the electronic generation of information of Covid-19 cases and their first-generation contacts among policemen helped enable a better response, enforce isolation and administer intervention for their affected workforce.

However, Garcia pointed out a drawback in the method of physical collection of data in the contact tracing carried out by RICTOC. 

She said that “information provided is just based on memory” of the Covid-19 patient and may not be sufficient as the patient may not divulge other information most vital to the manner of response and intervention.

“So kon physical contact tracing ra gihapon, interview nga based on memory dili gyud ta 100 percent sure nga musulti na tanan. Unya duna man gyud ta sa atong pamatasan nga maikog. Maikog, mataha. So dili na ma-pursue ang ubang mahinungdanon nga info,” she asserted.

Ferro vowed that, in collaboration with Ybañez, he will support the enforcement of installing the application for continued improvement of the contact tracing database, daily monitoring dashboard, and geospatial interpretation of data.

Geospatial interpretation involves the use of both electronic and physical maps. Its data analytics rely on “geographic coordinates and specific identifiers such as street address and zip code.”

These are used to create geographic models and data visualizations for more accurate representation of data such as the location of Covid-19 patients and their first-generation contacts as well as analysis of patterns to give managers - in this case, the local chief executives - precise information essential in decision-making. (Mylen Manto, Eleanor Valeros)