Madurai

Contact tracing is a challenging task, say Corporation officials

Corporation officials collecting details to trace primary and secondary contacts of COVID-19 positive patients in Madurai on Saturday.

Corporation officials collecting details to trace primary and secondary contacts of COVID-19 positive patients in Madurai on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: ma28Madurai Corporation official

While most patients co-operate and give correct address and phone numbers, human memory is still fallible, said a Corporation engineer.

Rising COVID-19 positive cases in the city have made the task of contact tracing a challenging job, especially in crowded areas, say Corporation officials.

“While it is comparatively easy to trace primary contacts of COVID-19 positive patients, tracing the secondary contacts of patients is an uphill task”, they say.

The Corporation has formed contact tracing teams led by four Assistant Revenue Officers. The teams, consisting bill collectors, work with Urban Primary Health Centres to trace the primary and secondary contacts of positive patients.

A Corporation official said that primary contacts include family members, close relatives and those at their workplaces. Secondary contacts usually include persons they have contacted in public spots including shops or markets. “We ask patients if they had any recent travel history or if they had met someone who had a travel history,” said the official.

Carrying out this task in a crowded area is extremely challenging, says a Urban Health Nurse. “In some cases, the positive patients say that they neither have a travel history nor any contact with a positive person,” she said.

“Up to June, we were able to completely trace out the primary and secondary contacts of positive patients. But, now we trace the primary contacts of all positive patients, isolate them and collect their swabs for testing. We are able to trace the secondary contacts only to a certain extent,” said a Corporation health official.

While most patients co-operate and give correct address and phone numbers, human memory is still fallible, said a Corporation engineer. “So, Corporation officials at various ranks speak to the neighbours and employers of positive patients to find out where all they would have travelled recently,” he said.

“It is advisable for people to avoid travelling out unnecessarily. Even if they do, it will be useful if they maintain a register of places they travelled to and the people they met”, said the official.

Collector T. G. Vinay said that CCTV camera footage and call records of positive patients were helpful to an extent to trace secondary contacts of positive patients. He said that most positive cases either had travel history to other districts or were in contact with people who had travelled from other places. “Fever camps are an important intervention as it helps us to pick fever cases early so that we can isolate them and provide treatment based on the severity of the cases,” he said.

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 10:19:15 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/contact-tracing-is-proving-to-be-a-challenging-task/article31934529.ece

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