BC's contact tracing is "on the edge" during second wave onslaught

Nov 26 2020, 1:29 am

The hundreds of new daily COVID-19 cases in BC are threatening to overwhelm the province’s contact tracing teams, but Dr. Bonnie Henry says contact tracers haven’t reached their limit yet — although they’re close.

She revealed last week was particularly challenging for contact tracers, who are trying to find who patients hung out with in the days before they fell ill and alert them to self-isolate.

“I wouldn’t say we’re losing, but we’re on the edge for sure,” Henry said at her bi-weekly news conference on Wednesday.

At the same time, she reassured residents that BC is “committed” to its contact tracing approach, and is making changes so the system can function more effectively.

They’ve made some parts of the process automated. People who got tested for COVID-19 now receive their results by text, whether positive or negative, with instructions on what to do next. Patients are supposed to start formulating their own list of contacts to have ready when a contact tracer phones them.

The Lower Mainland’s contact tracers have also undergone a restructuring recently, being organized into teams who tackle workplace transmission, school exposures, and healthcare infections respectively.

“Very much committed to our contact tracing approach. It’s still within our grasp,” Henry said, adding BC is not ready to abandon testing, tracing, and isolation efforts as some other jurisdictions have as cases accelerated.

Megan DevlinMegan Devlin

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