Alberta adds more contact tracers, can now trace every COVID-19 case

Alberta Health Services is now able to investigate every COVID-19 case, an improvement after the contact-tracing system in the province collapsed at the end of last year.

As of Jan. 29, AHS said it had more than 2,000 contact tracers and has the ability to trace approximately 1,200 cases every day.

“Currently, AHS is able to contact and investigate all COVID-19 cases we receive each day,” said AHS spokesperson Kerry Williamson.

“Individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 are no longer being asked to notify their close contacts themselves of the exposure.”

As daily case counts were surging in November, AHS switched to only tracing cases in high-priority settings, such as continuing care facilities, healthcare facilities and schools; other positive cases were left to do their own tracing.

Click to play video 'COVID-19: Alberta contact tracing teams facing challenges, will only contact high-priority settings' COVID-19: Alberta contact tracing teams facing challenges, will only contact high-priority settings

COVID-19: Alberta contact tracing teams facing challenges, will only contact high-priority settings – Nov 5, 2020

The province also stopped tracing positive cases where who had already spent 10 days in isolation, as it focused on the most recent cases first.

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: Alberta adds about 800 new COVID-19 cases in 24 hours, changes coming to contact tracing

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

On Jan. 12, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said they were able to reach out to these high-priority cases within 24 hours. At the time, Hinshaw said there wasn’t an exact date of when all new cases could be reached within 24 hours but she said that was the goal.

Click to play video 'Hinshaw says improved contact tracing allows high-priority COVID-19 cases to be notified in 24 hours' Hinshaw says improved contact tracing allows high-priority COVID-19 cases to be notified in 24 hours

Hinshaw says improved contact tracing allows high-priority COVID-19 cases to be notified in 24 hours – Jan 12, 2021

READ MORE: Alberta’s contact tracing improving as 652 new COVID-19 cases identified, 38 more deaths

Williamson said the improvement was due in part to lower case counts in the province as well as recruitment efforts for contact tracers and the implementation of text and email notifications.

AHS said it had 50 contact tracers before the coronavirus pandemic began. More people were hired in the spring and by July, there were roughly 300 contact tracers.

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: Alberta aims to have 1,600 contact tracers by end of 2020 as COVID-19 cases surge

As of late October, AHS said there were close to 800 contact tracers and it was in the process of hiring approximately 380 staff to bring the total number to more than 1,100.

Click to play video 'AHS president on COVID-19 contact tracing: ‘We are doing everything that we can to manage this’' AHS president on COVID-19 contact tracing: ‘We are doing everything that we can to manage this’

AHS president on COVID-19 contact tracing: ‘We are doing everything that we can to manage this’ – Dec 4, 2020

AHS is continuing to hire and train more contact tracers, with roughly 500 people completing orientation near the end of January.

Williamson said close contacts of cases in schools are notified within 24 hours of AHS receiving the list of close contacts from schools.

The process of contact tracing involves phoning a positive case, identifying close contacts and following up with those individuals in the hopes of limiting further transmission.

Story continues below advertisement

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

View Source