The gossipmongers or “tsismosas” in the neighborhood might have a key role in COVID-19 contact tracing.
Police Brigadier General Albert Ignatius Ferro, the director of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7), is considering the help of gossip spreaders in the region’s contact tracing efforts.
In a report from the Cebu-based daily The Freeman, Ferro has appealed to the public to be more involved in contact tracing, stressing that it is not solely the responsibility of authorities but everyone in the community to help curb the spread of the virus.
Contact tracing is a main component of the government’s COVID-19 T3 strategy, which is Test, Trace and Treat.
“This health emergency crisis in not only the job or responsibility of the police, the military or the local government. This is a responsibility of every Sugboanon, Boholano, Ilonggo, Ilocano, Bisaya and all Filipino citizens,” Ferro was quoted as saying.
In hopes of speeding up the contact tracing process, Ferro said that those who love to chitchat can lend their assistance.
“I heard last night, what do we call this, the ‘tsismoso’ brigade. They could be a good source, sa Bulacan man yata. Sabi nila, mga tsismosa, we (can) ask you to help us sa atong (with our) contact tracing… instead na paglibak, naa silay maayong matabang (instead of backbiting they can do something good),” Ferro stated.
This is not the first time though that COVID-19 efforts have somehow tapped the power of gossip.
A National Geographic story featured how a community doctor in Nueva Vizcaya has managed to keep his small town COVID-free with contact tracing, quarantine and gossip.
The article dated July 9 reported that Dr. Anthony Cortez, who leads the coronavirus fight in Bambang — a town of 56,000 people — relied on neighborhood talk to monitor arrivals and returning residents.
“Village chiefs asked people known to keep an eye on the neighbors, usually elderly women, to keep tabs on new arrivals to the village. The chief then reports the news to the doctor, who sends nurses to follow up,” said the National Geographic report.