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Toronto Public Health Prioritizes Contact Tracing for COVID-19 Variant Cases

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The Toronto Public Health (TPH) has been in close contact with people who have been identified as having a variant of COVID-19, directly from health unit staff to prevent the spread of some highly contagious strains of the virus. He says he will be contacted.

This is a new element of TPH’s strategy, and since October, people infected with COVID-19 outside of certain high-risk settings will be contacted to inform them that they may have been exposed. I am asking for.

“The real focus is on variants of concern,” Coun said. Joe Cressy, chair of the Toronto Health Commission during an interview on contact tracing on Friday.

“We recognize that these are highly contagious. Determining where the variants are is very important.”

If close contact with atypical cases does not live in the city, TPH will also take steps to contact the local public health department so that it can initiate its own contact tracking program.

Moreover, symptomatological intimate contact is quickly classified as a possible case.

Friday’s numbers show 68 variants of the case of concern in Toronto. This is an increase of 11 from the previous day.

All but one of these cases are the first variants discovered in the UK, also known as B117,at least 50% improvement in infectivity From the original virus that causes COVID-19. The· The other case is the first variant discovered in Brazil.

Importance of “active” tracking of cases

The resource-intensive approach to tracking different cases is consistent with what Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease physician and associate professor at McMaster University, expected.

Because mutant strains of the virus are still expected to eventually dominate “There [tracing] It’s useless. ”

Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease specialist at St. Joseph Healthcare in Hamilton, says he wants Toronto to be “as aggressive as possible” by tracking various cases. (Craig Chivers / CBC)

“But for now, the timing is good, but I want to be proactive in contact tracing.”

According to Chagra, having staff call you also reduces the responsibility of individuals who may not want to let their contacts know that they may have been exposed to the virus or may feel embarrassed.

“I think most people will do the right thing if they let people know that they are COVID positive,” he said. “But it’s very difficult to make that call.”

Some contact tracing stopped in October

The health unit game plan will also be updated approximately five months after some form of contact tracing is stopped as the number of cases increases.

In an interview with CBC Toronto, Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s Chief Medical Officer, said, “Once the number of cases reaches a high level, we will make a strategic shift and re-prioritize.”

Instead of calling close contacts for all infected Toronto citizens, TPH’s contact tracing team focuses only on outbreaks in high-risk environments such as hospitals, schools, and long-term care.

“If you have the impression that we are not doing it [tracing] Not at all. We continue to use case and contact management as one of many tools for dealing with pandemics. ”

The resources and contact management units that TPH has invested in that case continue to grow.

“When we first started in early 2020, our team was 50 people,” de Villa said. “By the time we were in March or April it was 400 … and by the fall we actually expanded it to about 900.”

Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s Head of Health, says everyone contracting COVID-19 in Toronto will receive a call from public health to discuss quarantine options and close contact. (Michael Wilson / CBC)

In addition, approximately 1,000 case managers and contact tracers hired by the Ministry of Health have 280 staff from the state pool working in the city.

Still, there are signs that health units are having problems with effective contact with individuals, even though they are preparing for more detailed contact tracing in various cases.

According to the city’s surveillance dashboard, 65% of people infected with COVID-19 could be contacted within 24 hours.

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