With the rapid spread of Covid 19, we come across health vocabulary that require explanation for us to understand. Among these words that have been popping up our screens is contact tracing. Just what is it and how effective is it in the fight against Covid 19?
What is contact tracing?
It is a technique used by public health workers to identify the carriers of an infectious disease and then uncover who else they may have exposed. This is done in an effort to reduce the spread of the disease.
Contact tracing has stood the test of time by being successful in management of diseases such as Ebola. It is the method most countries are currently employing in the fight agaist Covid 19, Kenya being one of them.
What is the importance of contact tracing
- The method is effective in fighting the on going Covid 19 pandemic.
- It helps in identification of persons who have had close contact with probable or confirmed Covid 19 cases.
- Its main purpose is to identify other secondary cases of Covid 19 which may have developed from a primary case.
Who is a close contact?
According to United Nations, in reference to Covid 19, a close contact is as follows:
- Working together in close proximity either by sharing the same environment with a confirmed Covid 19 case or spontaneous contacts.
- Living in the same household with a confirmed Covid 19 case.
- Traveling together with a confirmed Covid 19 patient.
- Providing direct care to a confirmed Covid 19 patient.
What does the process involve?
The process involves three main steps as outlined below:
- Identification of a case
In this stage, an individual is identified as either a suspect or probable case
- Contact identification and listing
This step involves locating any individual that the primary case has come into contact with. Afterwards, the surveillance official lists them as either having risk of exposure to the virus or low.
- Quarantine and self- monitoring
In this step, patients with a record of high risk to exposure of the virus undergo a government supervised quarantine. The ones with low risk of exposure self monitor in isolation for a minimum of 21 days.
How effective is contact tracing?
In as much as contact tracing is an effective way to fight Covid 19, the method, however, cannot be fully effective on its own