How does COVID-19 contact tracing work in Nova Scotia?


When a person tests positive, public health officials launch an investigation to try to determine how the person got the virus and to whom they may have transmitted it.

When someone tests positive for COVID-19, public health officials launch an investigation into the case to try to determine how the individual caught the virus and to whom it may have passed it on.The process is called contact tracing.

Cheryl MacNeil is the Health Protection Manager for the Nova Scotia Health Authority.

“This initial investigation into the case is started by a public health nurse and begins with a phone call to this client,” she told the NEWS 95.7 Sheldon MacLeod Show.

“It’s really a conversation, a non-judgmental and very empathetic approach that our nurses take,” she added. “For many customers, this can be a scary experience, they can be quite scared and not know what to expect. ”

Nurses ask about travel history, who they live with, work or volunteer with, and which gatherings they have attended.

“Basically we are looking back at a full 14 day exposure period where they may have potentially contracted the disease,” MacNeil explained.

“And then we look at where they may have passed it on. The transmission period we are looking at is that 48 hour window from the time they became symptomatic, or if they are asymptomatic, each time their test was. ”

Each contact that health officials identify will also receive a phone call informing them that they have been potentially exposed. These contacts go through a risk assessment and the nurses organize their test.

Nurses will explain the need for isolation and help people overcome the barriers they may face during this time.

“Simple things like food, access to it while we ask them to stay at home,” said MacNeil. “We could work with the client to connect with local resources to make sure they get support for food delivery. ”

If the person lives with other people, they will also receive recommendations to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to their roommates.

Nurses continue to pick up the phone to make daily recordings with all cases and contacts for 14 days.


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