What is contact tracing?
Contact tracing is used by health departments to prevent the spread of infectious disease. In general, contact tracing involves identifying people who have an infectious disease (cases) and their contacts (people who may have been exposed) and working with them to interrupt disease transmission. For COVID-19, this includes asking cases to isolate and contacts to quarantine at home voluntarily.
Will my information be kept private?
All aspects of case investigation and contact tracing must be voluntary, confidential, and culturally appropriate. Efforts to locate and communicate with clients and close contacts must be carried out in a manner that preserves the confidentiality and privacy of all involved. This includes never revealing the name of the client to a close contact unless permission has been given (preferably in writing), and not giving confidential information to third parties (e.g., roommates, neighbors, family members).
Contact tracing for COVID-19 typically involves
• Interviewing people with COVID-19 to identify everyone with whom they had close contact during the time they may have been infectious,
• Notifying contacts of their potential exposure,
• Monitoring contacts for signs and symptoms of COVID-19, ( I switched places of the monitoring bullet and the referring bullet)
• Referring contacts for testing (if symptomatic or at the end of their 14 day quarantine, if requested), and
• Connecting contacts with services they might need during the self-quarantine period.
To prevent the further spread of disease, COVID-19 contacts are encouraged to stay home and maintain social distance (at least 6 feet) from others until 14 days after their last exposure to a person with COVID-19. Contacts should monitor themselves by checking their temperature twice daily and watching for symptoms of COVID-19.
What happens during contact tracing?
Generally, contact tracing includes the following steps:
• Case investigation: Public health staff work with a patient to help them recall everyone with whom they have had close contact during the time when they may have been infectious.
• Contact tracing: Public health staff begin contact tracing by notifying exposed individuals (contacts) of their potential exposure as rapidly and sensitively as possible, not revealing the infected patient’s identity.
• Contact support: Contacts are provided with education, information, and support to help them understand their risk, what they should do to separate themselves from others who are not exposed, and how to monitor themselves for illness. In addition, they are informed of the possibility that they could spread the infection to others even if they do not feel ill.
• Self-quarantine: Contacts are encouraged to stay home, monitor their health, and maintain social distance (at least 6 feet) from others until 14 days after their last exposure to the infected patient, in case they also become ill.