'We are putting out this call to these dedicated professionals to bolster our contact tracing capacity'
British Columbia will hire about 500 additional health professionals to increase contact tracing around the province.
“We want to make sure people are kept safe in any COVID-19 outbreak, and one of the ways to do that is through strong contact tracing,” says Premier John Horgan. “These new contact tracers will provide an extra layer of protection by jumping into action as soon as there is an outbreak, and will start their detective-style work to find out who may be infected in order to protect all British Columbians.”
Successful candidates will begin work in September and be employed until the end of March 2021, with the opportunity for extension if needed. The Provincial Health Services Authority and the regional health authorities will do the recruiting.
Contact tracing works by following up with each person who has tested positive for COVID-19 to understand who their contacts may be and providing appropriate followup. Health authorities’ public health teams typically have staff who do contact tracing of communicable diseases as part of their regular work, but additional support is needed given the scale of the response needed for COVID-19, according to the government.
Some of those who will be hired will also help to support public health services, such as providing education in communities, and possibly immunizing for influenza and other diseases.
“When there is a community outbreak, time is of the essence,” says Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer. “These new contact tracers will work with existing public health teams to help track down all those who may have been exposed and support people to self-isolate when necessary. This role becomes even more crucial to contain the spread as we continue to open up our schools, economy and social activities, and as we prepare for the upcoming cold and flu season this fall.”
On July 31, a COVID-19 tracing app launched in Ontario. “Tracing can be a very effective tool to limit the spread of COVID-19. And it can help us manage the pandemic and keep people safe, if enough people download the app, and if enough people use it on a daily basis,” says Andrew Pariser, vice-president at the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON) in Toronto.
Effective COVID-19 testing and tracing (T&T) could be crucial as economies reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report from the International Labour Organization (ILO).