Contact tracing technology is one of the best tools to curb the spread of coronavirus. Contact tracing helps health authorities to trace the path of infection and notify users who are near a person infected by COVID-19. It plays a vital role in preventing the spread of the virus by proactively finding people at higher risk. It also helps find people who are proximity to potential exposure and notify them. It is proven that contact tracking via smartphones make infection tracking possible and more effective.
With lockdown lifts, healthcare officials are finding out various ways to track those infected with COVID-19. It is an effective disease control strategy to identify infected cases and their contacts if done correctly. Contact tracing includes finding out the potentially infected person, their close contacts, and asking them to self-quarantine at home voluntarily.
The Principles of Contact Tracing during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Contact tracing should be done for close contacts of confirmed Covid-19 cases.
First Level Investigation
The healthcare official should work with COVID-19 patients to help them recall everyone with whom they have had close contact for the past 48 hours. Close contact is defined as all person who was within 6-feet from an infected person for more than 15 minutes, 48 hours before the infected person began feeling sick.
The healthcare staff then identify people who have had close contact with the infected person and starts monitoring them as sensitively as possible without revealing the identity of the infected person.
Support for Contacts
All the contacts are provided with adequate information, education, and support to isolate themselves from others who are not exposed. They are advised to monitor themselves for illness.
Contacts are advised to stay at home and maintain social distance from others for 14 days.
Contact tracing is labor-intensive however every effort is taken by healthcare staff to interview the patient, and reach out to the contacts by telephone, video conference, and text to curb the spread. It can be done only by a well-trained workforce.
Digital Contact Tracing Technology
Many governments have launched a smartphone app to alert the contacts of people who are infected with the coronavirus. The government also encourages people to download the important public health app on smartphones to safely get back to business after lockdown lifts.
The idea behind digital contact tracing will identify people who are potential exposure to the virus. It will also help them find the number of infected cases around them. such apps help control pandemic and create awareness.
Are Digital Apps Effective?
The app can track only people who have installed it. It is impossible to capture all possible contacts that might be in potential risks. Some researchers are considering the data collected through apps to see whether they are directly responsible for bringing down infections. Researchers see a slightly positive sign. However, it depends on effective usage.