COVID-19 Contact Tracing

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Day 17 – Stay Home Order

The contact tracing is “the process of identification of persons who may have come into contact with an infected person (‘contacts’) and subsequent collection of further information about these contacts. By tracing the contacts of infected individuals, testing them for infection, treating the infected and tracing their contacts in turn, public health aims to reduce infections in the population”.

The Verge reporter Nicole Wetsman wrote a simple contact tracing explainer and how it helps to stop the spread of diseases.

The ‘contact tracing’ technique finding each sick person and then figuring out who they recently interacted with. It is based on an obvious idea that people in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 are at risk of getting sick.

Source: The Verge

The following diagram adopted from the Wikipedia article illustrates how ‘contact tracing’ process is applied to isolate infected people and help reduce spread.

General illustration of Contact Tracing based off of CDC-material. Credit CFCF and CDC (source: Wikipedia)

In a CNN interview, Dr. Joia Mukherjee at Partners in Health says that ‘contract tracing’ is an important step to decrease coronavirus cases. According to the Mukherjee three steps happen during the contact tracing: (i) investigating close relatives, (ii) contact tracing team makes calls, and (iii) make sure the individuals isolate properly.

Personal Distancing Matters

The social distancing orders issued by state governors including Gov Tim Walz of Minnesota, in an effort to reduce close physical contact between people. The following diagram adopted from the CNN updates illustrates how reducing contact help reduce infections.

An aggressive ‘contact tracing‘ by public health official is essential to measure the spread of the virus. In an interview with NPR, the CDC director Robert Redfield is quoted saying ‘CDC researching how to increase contact tracing capacity’.

We have over 600 people in the field right now from CDC in all the states trying to help with this response, but we are going to have to substantially amplify that.

Robert Redfield, Director of CDC (source: The Washington Post)

Tracking technologies from smartphones could supplement the healthcare contact tracing teams. On April 10, Apple announced on its website that Apple and Google are partnering to develop COVID-19 contact tracing technology for iOS and Androids with Bluetooth Low Energy wireless radio signals.

All States Under Disaster Declaration

US has the most COVID-19 confirmed cases (more than 562K) in the world, according to the Johns Hopkins coronavirus tracking database. According to the CNN, for the first time in US history all the 50 states are under a ‘federal disaster declaration‘. Such a declaration by the President allows “public officials to exercise emergency powers to preserve life, property, and public health following a disaster”. Aggressive testing for virus infection & isolating infected individuals through contact tracing is essential to reduce the spread of this pandemic.

Coronavirus Watch

According to the MDH latest tally (as of April 13, 11 a.m.) the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota are 1,650 (out of 38,427 tested) with 70 deaths. According to Johns Hopkins database (as of April 13, 2:11 p.m.) there are 568,176 confirmed covid19 infection with 23,070 deaths. Globally the covid19 virus has infected 1,904,566 with 118,459 deaths.

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