B.C. to hire 500 more contact tracers in response to COVID-19 - InfoNews

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B.C. to hire 500 more contact tracers in response to COVID-19

Premier John Horgan
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Province of B.C.
August 12, 2020 - 1:26 PM

There will be 500 people hired in September to boost the ranks of people who work at tracing people in B.C. who may have come into contact with people who have COVID-19.

Premier John Horgan and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry made that announcement today, Aug. 12.

“This allows us to get more people trained up to do this really important work,” Dr. Henry said. “And we’ll be prepared if there is a surge in the coming months.’’

"When there is a community outbreak, time is of the essence," she said.

The province said contract tracing is following up with every person who tests positive for the virus with the goal of finding out who they may have had contact with so public health officials can follow up with them.

Contract tracing is the “bread and butter” of health care workers, Dr. Henry said. They routinely track people with communicable diseases like measles or tuberculosis but are being stretched by COVID-19.

Some of those people are needed for other healthcare work, such as inoculations, so the additional staff will help free them up to do other work.

There are currently about 1,700 people whose contacts are being traced and 95 per cent of those contacts are identified, Dr. Henry said, so the system is working.

"As we have seen in recent weeks, strong contact tracing is absolutely crucial when dealing with community outbreaks as we slowly and safely increase our contacts," health minister Adrian Dix said in a media release. "We are putting out this call to these dedicated professionals to bolster our contact tracing capacity and prepare us for a potential surge of COVID-19 in the fall."

The positions will be temporary and will most likely be filled by retired nurses and other health care workers as well as recent graduates, Horgan said.

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