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Contact tracing can be a game-changer in the fight against Covid-19

  • Published at 05:21 pm April 17th, 2020
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Photo: BIGSTOCK

Contact testing is all about working in a smart way with limited resources

When it comes to an enemy as overwhelming as the novel coronavirus, measures such as widespread testing and social isolation go a long way, but even these may not be enough at the end of the day -- particularly for a country as densely populated as Bangladesh.

This is where contact tracing can come to the rescue. Contact tracing is a strategy that involves identifying suspected cases, and then following up with those individuals, and quarantining them. Furthermore, the people who have been in contact with infected individuals could also then be quarantined.

The data gathered in the process of contact tracing could be invaluable to containing its spread. In a rural area, for example, as soon as a patient is identifying as being infected, a community health worker could be notified, who in turn would keep track of this patient. Furthermore, the health worker can then communicate on the phone with the patient and compile a list of people who have been in contact with the patient, and are therefore likely to also have been infected. Those people can then be asked if they are exhibiting symptoms, and can be tested for infection.

 It goes without saying that, initially, the government did drop the ball when Bangladeshis from Italy and other coronavirus-hit countries arrived back in the country -- they were released without the 14-day quarantine, and there was no rigorous follow-up regarding their whereabouts.

However, it is not too late to act. 

Contact testing is all about working in a smart way with limited resources. Our population is overwhelming, so it does not seem feasible to test everyone. This is why it is all the more important that we carefully keep track of those who have a high probability of being infected, and monitor them with the technology at our disposal. 

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