Contact tracing key to stopping spread of COVID-19 – DCMO

−Urges persons to be more cooperative

One of the most effective ways of controlling the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is by contact tracing.

During an interview with DPI on Friday, Deputy Chief Medical Officer of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Karen Gordon-Boyle explained this involves identifying individuals who would have come into contact with someone who tested positive for the virus.

Dr Boyle said for the process to be successful, those persons who test positive must be cooperative in detailing their movements and who they would have been in contact with two weeks (14 days) before testing positive.

She warned that if positive cases are not forthcoming with information, the lives and well-being of many others may be at risk.

“Anything that prevents you from identifying all contacts, communicating to them their risk and isolating them means you are going to be less effective in controlling your epidemic,” Dr. Boyle underscored.

She further explained once the contact(s) have been identified, they are quarantined and at the end of the 14 days, tested for COVID-19.

Dr Boyle, however, noted while the process seems a simple one it is not without it challenges

“What we are finding is that some persons are not fully cooperating in terms of identifying persons who they may have placed at risk so we are unable to necessarily contact all those persons to ensure that they are quarantined,” she explained.

According to the DCMO, other challenges that can limit the Ministry’s efforts include incorrect names and telephone numbers being given. This, in turn, sees a great deal of time, effort and energy is wasted on the part of the Ministry to locate persons.

Dr. Gordon-Boyle took the opportunity to again appeal to the public to cooperate with the surveillance team who are the ones reaching out for information. She reiterated that the exercise of contact tracing is uncomplicated and plays a major role in ensuring individuals are kept safe and those infected can no longer transmit the virus.