What is Contact Tracing and Why Does it Matter?
One of the COVID-19 epidemic phrases that has been assimilated into our common vocabulary is contact tracing. Nonetheless, it has been a public health tactic for years to fight infectious diseases.
Contact tracing is indeed the method for finding persons who have recently had close contact with someone who is contaminated with an infection, like SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, and contacting them to let them realize that they might have been exposed and advise them of their next steps. In rare circumstances, self-isolation may be necessary to stop the spread.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of contact tracing in controlling the spread of infectious diseases.
Let's discuss more about what contact tracing is, how it works, and why it matters.
What Is Contact Tracing?
Contact tracing is a public health strategy used to control the spread of infectious diseases. It involves identifying individuals who have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the disease and providing them with information and support to prevent further transmission. Contact tracing is an important tool for controlling outbreaks of infectious diseases such as COVID-19, Ebola, and tuberculosis.
After the pandemic was formally declared on March 13, 2020, numerous contact tracing apps were created and implemented in Europe. To halt the transmission of infectious illnesses, electronic contact tracing in healthcare has become essential. Electronic contact tracing can swiftly locate people who have been near someone who has tested positive for a disease using a variety of techniques, like Bluetooth and GPS. This enables medical personnel to contact people who may have been exposed and provide them with advice on testing and quarantine procedures to help contain the sickness. Electronic contact tracing can help to considerably lessen the effects of infectious diseases by serving as a pillar in the healthcare system.
How Does Contact Tracing Work?
Contact tracing involves several steps. The first step is to identify the infected individual and isolate them to prevent further transmission. Once the infected individual has been identified, trained contact tracers interview them to determine who they have been in contact with while infectious.
Contact tracers then reach out to those who have been in close contact with the infected individual and advise them to self-quarantine and monitor themselves for symptoms. Close contact is typically defined as being within six feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes or having direct contact with their body fluids or secretions.
They also provide information on how to prevent the spread of the disease, such as by practicing good hand hygiene, wearing masks, and avoiding close contact with others, and may also offer support services such as testing, medical care, and mental health services.
Why Does Contact Tracing Matter?
Contact tracing is a critical tool for controlling the spread of infectious diseases. By identifying and isolating infected individuals and providing support to their close contacts, contact tracing can help prevent further transmission of the disease.
It is particularly important for infectious diseases such as COVID-19, which can be spread by individuals who are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic. These individuals may not know that they are infected and may inadvertently spread the disease to others.
Reduces the Risk of Spreading
Contact tracing can, first and foremost, aid in the reduction of infectious disease transmission. Healthcare workers can take urgent action to lessen the risk of transmission by immediately identifying people who may have been exposed to a disease. This may entail telling those who have been exposed to isolate themselves, get tested, and take other safety measures to stop the disease from spreading.
Electronic contact tracking can dramatically lessen the effects of infectious diseases and save lives by taking fast action.
Protecting Those Who Are Vulnerable
Protecting vulnerable groups like the elderly and those with underlying medical concerns can be made easier through contact tracking. We can stop the spread of disease to those who are most vulnerable by rapidly identifying people who may have been exposed to it and urging them to take measures.
These people are at higher risk of developing severe illness or complications from COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. By identifying and isolating infected individuals and their close contacts, contact tracing can help protect these vulnerable populations.
Assisting Healthcare Systems
Contact tracing can reduce the strain on healthcare systems by preventing a spike in cases that might overburden hospitals and healthcare personnel. We can make sure that healthcare services are accessible to people who need them most by preventing the spread of disease.