Jamaica News: Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, says contact tracing is crucial to the Government’s work to contain continued spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), based in the United States of America, contact tracing is part of the process of supporting patients with suspected or confirmed infection and warning contacts of exposure, in order to stop chains of transmission.
With the number of confirmed cases of the virus at 252, as of Wednesday (April 22), Dr. Tufton is highlighting the importance of individuals being aware of their exposure to the virus and possible contraction, in order to prevent further transmission.
“An individual who is unaware that he or she has COVID-19 in a community or in a household setting, could actually be spreading the virus to all he or she may come in contact with – family members, close friends and people they don’t know – because they take public transportation,” he pointed out, while addressing a digital press conference on Wednesday (April 22).
Dr. Tufton noted that this unwitting spread of the virus creates a major challenge for the public health system and particularly for those vulnerable individuals who have co-morbid conditions such as hypertension and diabetes, as well as senior citizens with compromised immune systems.
“For all of those reasons, the contact tracing is absolutely critical,” the Health Minister emphasised.
Dr. Tufton again appealed to all individuals who are identified as a possible contact of an infected person, to fully cooperate with the health officials in the field, and help in the fight against COVID-19.
“The work that our community public health officials do in the districts, in the lanes, communities and the health centres is fundamental… [to] our efforts to manage COVID-19… and we have to salute them, but more importantly, we need to give them all the support. The community transmission that we speak of, which is now about to occur… is going to require a lot more of it (contact tracing) and a lot more cooperation from the public,” he said.
The CDC refers to contact tracing as a core disease control measure employed by health authorities, and is a key strategy for preventing further spread of COVID-19.
It explains that in contact tracing, public health staff work with a patient to help them recall everyone with whom they have had close contact during the time frame while they may have been infectious. Public health staff then warn these exposed individuals (contacts) of their potential exposure as rapidly and sensitively as possible.
Further, contacts are provided with education, information, and support to understand their risk, what they should do to separate themselves from others who are not exposed, monitor themselves for illness, and the possibility that they could spread the infection to others even if they themselves do not feel ill.
Of the 252 confirmed cases in Jamaica, 34 are imported, and 53 are contacts of a confirmed case. In addition, eight cases are local transmission with no epidemiological link and 148 are under investigation. Of the number under investigation, 131 have been identified within a workplace cluster.
Source: JIS News