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23.03.2020 Opinion

Contact Tracing: An Important Part In The Fight Against COVID 19

By Emmanuel Tuffuor
Contact Tracing: An Important Part In The Fight Against COVID 19
LISTEN MAR 23, 2020

Contact tracing ( CT)is an important tool in Public Health for the identification of individuals who might have come in contact with an infected person. We call such an infected person the contact. For purposes of this communication, I designate Contact as C1. Effective CT requires a timely follow up of the persons that C1 might have been around in a manner that enhances the chances of being infected by C1.

History teaches us from the outbreak of Small Pox to Ebola that ( contact tracing) CT was instrumental in taking control of the disease by interrupting the ongoing transmission of the disease and curtailing its spread.

Without reinventing the wheel the same basic method of CT can be employed to fight the Covid 19. Contact tracing (CT) still remains the backbone to control of communicable disease such as Covid 19. Right now, with a low prevalence ( number of cases that exist at a time) of COVID-19, is the best time to adopt contact tracing but when the prevalence goes up much higher then we might be faced with the expensive proposition of mass screening or focused testing. Contact tracing may be more cost-effective in Ghana at this time which I am glad our authorities started doing just as soon as we had the first suspected case.

But contact tracing (CT) is a labour intensive effort and certainly, there are some apps available to accomplish the same while we have the proliferation of smartphones. But without relying too much on smartphones at this time, our authorities might consider the use of most of our youth in performing the task of contact tracing(CT). Their activities would be similar to door-to-door political campaigning. Once selected and given the pep talk/ basic training they can be well equipped about how to track down contaminated persons. With so many of our students sent home, a voluntary recruitment can be implemented and to establish a “C 19 Squad Team.” Contact tracing (CT) is only as effective as you design it. Having enough personnel to respond as quickly as you identify a Contact (C1) is crucial because time is of the essence and interviewing your way to the contaminated person ( with inadequate address system) can rob you of the precious time needed to see enough primary, secondary etc contaminated persons. There is no special long training required to do the task of contact tracing and yet such recruits can be very helpful in this novel fight.

I saw on social media STC doing hand washing and temperature screening before passengers boarded the buses. Kudos to The CEO of STC. That is brilliant. Can we encourage other transport operators including trotro to embark upon such precautionary measures. Taxi drivers may offer sanitizers to passengers before they get in. It may not be a bad idea for drivers to take a log of addresses where they transport their passengers to. All of these may be good tracking systems in case we need the information. If there are affordable temperature guns in the market drivers could buy them for use on their passengers. Other service providers may choose to use them as they serve their customers.

These are suggestions intended to stir up discussions and in so doing come up with pragmatic solutions to our current Covid 19 pandemic.

Manny Tuffuor,
Cleveland, Ohio
[email protected]

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