How long is too long to wait for contact tracers to get in touch?

#ANALYSIS: How long is too long to wait for contact tracers to get in touch?

İsolation, Contact Tracing

17/09/2021 11:22:00 PM

ANALYSIS: How long is too long to wait for contact tracers to get in touch?

We are in isolation after a COVID-positive case at my son's daycare and watching the contact tracing play out has been eye-opening, writes Julia Holman.

But it's clear the system hasn't kept pace with the Delta strain, according to data journalist Juliette O'Brien, who's been tracking the COVID outbreak nationally."The question of whether contact tracing in NSW is functioning effectively has really been asked since the beginning of this outbreak — right from the beginning we've started to see signs of strain.

"It was pretty clear that as fast as NSW contact tracers were, Delta seems to have moved faster."She said that even when the numbers were much smaller than the daily figures we're seeing now, many cases weren't being linked to known outbreaks.

"That was quite unusual for the so-called gold standard NSW contact tracing," she said."Right now, there are more than 27,000 cases under investigation in NSW. We have had just over 41,000 cases in this outbreak, so that's two-thirds that have not been linked."

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Ms O'Brien said it's crucial contract tracers keep up, even as more people get vaccinated and the state opens back up."Part of the national plan under the Doherty Report relies on optimal TTIQ: test, trace, isolate and quarantine."So, what we are supposed to have is optimal TTIQ, public health measures and vaccination."

Walking away from contact tracing?Professor Mary-Louise McLaws is an expert in infectious disease control at the University of New South Wales, and the member of a World Health Organisation COVID infection prevention and control group.Epidemiologist Marylouise McLaws said contact tracers would struggle to keep up with sustained high numbers of new cases.

(AAP: Mick Tsikas)She believes NSW Health won't be able to rely on contact tracing because the numbers are simply too large to keep up with."I think they're going to be more inclined to only do contact tracing for vulnerable groups such as residential aged care and hospitals," she said.

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"When you're getting over 1,000 cases a day, there is no way you can find them all."She said as the state and the country start to open up, more cases will emerge through travellers and vaccinated people whose immunity is waning, which will make it even harder for contact tracers.

"It is unlikely that any department of health could keep up with a high level of circulating virus, even with a high level of vaccination, because there will be circulating virus."NSW Health maintains it's still committed to contact tracing.

"There are currently more than 1,000 staff working to assist COVID-19 contact tracing," a spokesperson said in a statement."NSW Health continues to expand capacity to meet the increasingly high demand.""We continue to be deeply appreciative of the co-operation of the community in our contact tracing efforts, particularly during this challenging time."

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It has to be the same day!! Otherwise it's too late to stop people from going about and spreading the virus. How can we get more contact tracers so this delay can stop? I would happily volunteer my time. My son's day care had cases linked, two of his educators tested positive as well, took NSWHealth 4 days to advise us we were close contacts. I know ppl who hav covid, never contacted by NSW health, no contact tracing, yet 3 police checks- currently 2 weeks in to being positive

Saw my supermarket listed as exposure site on Wednesday, went to get tested immediately but notification text came five days later. What if I didn’t check the website? I would have gone to work for 5 days. NSW? Don't wait.

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