Contact tracing process explained

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An average of 37 individuals are being contact-traced for every Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) patient.

This is based on the data of the city’s contact tracing team composed of over 600 personnel from the City Health Services Office (CHSO) and the Baguio City Police Office (BCPO) trained by Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong on cognitive interview for an effective tracking system.

Dr. Donnabel Panes, city epidemiologist, explained that once a swab specimen yields positive Covid-19 results, the contact tracing team immediately informs the patient.

Within three hours from receiving the report of a positive Covid-19 result, the contact tracing team is immediately deployed to locate the patient for health assessment, counselling and interview. The team brings the patient to the city’s isolation facility at the Sto. Niño Hospital if asymptomatic and referred to the Baguio General Hospital and General Center if the patient exhibits symptoms or having other health risks.

Based on the interview with the patient, the contact tracing team will identify and locate the close contacts that will be subjected for health assessment, swab tests or the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and quarantined for 14 days.

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Places frequented and visited by the patient are also ordered to disinfect their premises.

Panes said they are using a four-step method of identifying and classifying contacts that will be subjected for swab tests and quarantine. The first step called “F0” is the Covid-19 patient while “F1” are the direct and close contacts of the patient particularly family members and individuals living in one household with the patient, co-workers, people together with the patient for at least six hours in closed spaces like bus or plane, and those whom the patient have chatted within 15 minutes without protection particularly face mask.

Considered general contacts are: F2 – those contacts of F1 while; and, F3 – those contacts of F2. The process of contact tracing is repeated once a close contact tested positive of the virus.

“All contacts that meet the qualification of being close contacts of F0 have to be quarantine for 14 days even if they tested negative of the through swab test,” Panes explained.

The city epidemiologist reminded the public to “never let your guards down, the virus is just waiting for that one moment in time when you take off your facemask or face shield to attack.”

By: Jessa Mardy Samidan

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