Until there is a vaccine or treatment, contact tracing is one of the main tools available to stop the spread of COVID-19.
According to Public Health Ontario, this is a process used to identify, educate and monitor people who have come into close contact with people infected with the virus.
In Toronto, contact tracing has become a major endeavor.
During the pandemic, Dr. Vinita Dubey, assistant medical officer of health for Toronto, said that the number of people doing the work increased from about 100 to over 600, including 45 volunteers.
Dubey said officials have learned that about 20% of cases spread in the community, but knowing exactly where the transmission took place is not always easy as the virus has a 14-day incubation period.
“It is often difficult to determine exactly,” said Dubey.
She said patients are interviewed over the past 14 days to determine where they were infected and the past 48 hours with symptoms to collect contacts.
Toronto’s goal is to contact 90% of people with a positive case within 24 hours based on provincial targets, said Dubey.
She said that Toronto met the target in 85% of the cases and that each case was under investigation.
Tracing first line contracts
Henry Chong, a public health nurse from Durham Region, compared work to detective work.
He makes phone calls to people who have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.
It may be a roommate, family member, or co-worker, but due to privacy it cannot reveal its name.
“Sometimes people ask” can you tell me who I have been in contact with? “
He then tells them to isolate themselves to stop the spread in case they become infected and gives other health tips.
Nancy Bevilacqua, a public health officer for public health in York Region, said receiving a call can be stressful.
“Often it’s the first time they’ve heard of it; as you can imagine, they can be pretty scary. They may not fully understand what’s going on, ”said Bevilacqua.
She said that one way to help stop the spread is for people to keep a log of where they traveled in case someone calls public health.