World Health Organization (WHO) in 2015 had prepared an emergency guideline about “Implementation and management of contact tracing for Ebola virus disease”.
Its model, or at least several aspects of it, can be adapted towards helping reduce the outbreak of COVID-19.
The contact tracing process allows identification of people who have symptoms. Prompt isolation reduces exposure to other people, preventing increased infections.
If any person has been exposed to a suspected or confirmed case in at least one of the following ways, then they are to be termed as a contact and should be kept under observation:
1. Has slept in the same household as a case
2. Has had direct physical contact within 1.5 to 2 metres of the case during the illness
3. Has touched the clothes or linens of a case
There should be an alert system following deployment of specially trained staff to take care of the suspected case and transport them to a treatment facility. The staffs involved in the alert system must know the definitions of what constitutes an alert. In a COVID-19 case the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and how to activate the alert system when they encounter a person who meets the alert or case definition.
The current COVID-19 outbreak has provoked social stigma and discriminatory behaviours against people perceived to have been in contact with the virus.
Accurate information can help reduce confusion and avoid misunderstandings, therefore the role of responsible journalism. Media should refrain from identifying personal details of victims, and can help by conducting regular and proactive communication with the public and at-risk populations to help reduce stigma.
The prevention of Ebola had suggested a high level community engagement, and in the case of COVID-19 too, community actions need to be united:
The following measures may enhance community engagement
1.Engage and educate community leaders regarding infection, transmission, and the steps communities can take to combat it.
2.Use early health communication and education efforts.
3. Use early psychosocial support to overcome the fear associated with COVID-19.
4. Educate the media on the importance of confidentiality for cases and contacts.