Contact tracing, surveillance key to mitigating COVID-19 spread

—effectiveness of process depends on reliability of person testing – CMO

DPI, Guyana, Monday, April 13, 2020

The efficiency of contact tracing during the COVID-19 pandemic will depend on the truthfulness of the persons being tested said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Shamdeo Persaud.

Appearing on NCN’s programme COVID-19 Conversations, Dr. Persaud said to ensure the process is effective, surveillance officers gather as much information as possible from the positive case which would then guide their efforts going forward.


Chief Medical Officer, Dr Shamdeo Persaud

“The surveillance officers actually grill them and some have complained that they are being asked a lot of questions  – such as where did you go, how long did you spend, which taxi did you use, where did you come off, did you go to buy something etc. All the necessary little details taking a minute by minute account of that person’s life for the last week,” the CMO said.

The meticulous data gathering he explained is necessary to safeguard the general population

Dr. Persaud said upon testing someone positive the next step will be to identify the contacts of that person and quarantining all of them. This will mitigate the possibility of those contacts transmitting the virus to others.

He related that the ministry has now begun to place contacts of positive COID-19 patients into institutional quarantine because previously it was discovered that quarantined individuals were not adhering to the order to stay indoors.

“There were reports that persons would have left their homes to shop, to visit their relatives. That is not desirable!”

Concerning foreign nationals who were in Guyana for shopping or visa application purposes or even on vacation, the CMO said the ministry followed up with checks on the places they would have lodged, services accessed etc.

A PAHO/WHO model reviewed by the health ministry has shown that a person carrying the virus might be in contact with at least 2.5 persons and those persons in contact with another 2.5 persons. This can put thousands of persons at risk hence the necessity to trace all contacts of persons testing positive and quarantining them


Note: Contact tracing is the process of identifying persons who may have come into contact with an infected person (“contacts”) and subsequent collection of further information about these contacts. By tracing the contacts of infected individuals, testing them for infection, treating the infected and tracing their contacts in turn, public health official aim to reduce infections in the population.