COVID-19 update and press conference – Saturday, January 23, 2021. (PMO)

Medical Officer of Health at the Glebe Polyclinic, Dr. Carl Ward, has sought to provide some understanding of the Ministry of Health and Wellness’ contact tracing procedures.

He was speaking this evening during a press conference at Ilaro Court.

Dr. Ward shared: “Contact tracing is the process by which, during an outbreak of anything, public health teams or officials, doctors, nurses, health inspectors, basically start to interview the ill person or persons with the condition, and start to get from them what we call a contact trace.”

He said mobilisation of teams and identification of the person exhibiting symptoms are paramount, and the next step is to gather information from the person about whom they have been in contact with, and where they were when they came into contact with other people.

He noted that time was very important when it came to contact tracing.  “The trace time or duration depends on the illness you’re dealing with. If you have an illness that has an incubation period of two days you don’t have to trace too far. Some illnesses have much longer incubation periods, and they would require what we call a much longer trace,” he stated.

Dr. Ward explained the process of notifying a person with a positive result. “That person receives a call from a Ministry official letting them know their results, after they’ve been verified as that person, and then refer that person so they can be transported to isolation; at that point, some basic contact information is gathered.”

He also described what is a primary and secondary contact. He said a primary contact is someone who has been in close contact with a person who has a positive COVID-19 result, while a secondary contact is a contact of a primary contact.

Dr. Ward stated that persons should be truthful to Ministry officials when providing information about their whereabouts. 

“Contact tracing can be difficult, and it can be challenging.  It can also be rewarding when you get all the numbers and everything seems to fit together,” he said.

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