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Coronavirus Contact Tracing is a Waste if not Timely

Coronavirus contact tracing is one of the ways to prevent new cases but a new study finds it is completely useless if it is not fast enough. This study reveals that even if all contacts of a positive case are successfully traced, a delay between the testing and symptoms has no benefit, as it fails to control the transmission.

This news is out in probably a bad time when all coronavirus cases are at the highest peak but the testing and report system is not efficient. This delay is increasing the risk for other people that may be around these infected ones to get the virus, as they don’t know if these people are coronavirus positive or not.

For a successful coronavirus contact tracing, it is necessary to lower the transmission rate. This means the people meeting a suspected coronavirus patient should be minimum or less than one.

Also read- US Prisons Have Five Times Higher Covid-19 Cases Than General Public

This study also analyzed and compared the benefits of conventional case tracking and the latest, app-based contact tracing.

Ideally, when there is no delay in test and up to 80% of contact tracing the transmission rate of coronavirus cases can be reduced to a significant level, which will save thousands of lives.

On the other side, for this tracing to be any effective, it is necessary to process and deliver the test results without any delay whether or not a person develops symptoms. These study findings are published in the journal The Lancet Public Health. Click here to read the complete study findings. 

The ideal 24- turnaround of coronavirus reports is difficult or almost impossible despite all the diagnostic labs trying their best to deliver the results. In the US, the two biggest labs have shared a high increase in their daily tests. Still, the total turnover is not as high as required to control the new cases.

Despite the high increase in cases, the testing facilities are not that efficient. Even the best report turnaround time is more than 24 hours, which is enough for the suspected person to meet and infect more people. Many testing labs have expressed their concerns that this high demand is almost outpacing their total capacity. They are trying to conduct and process thousands of coronavirus tests daily. Yet this number is far behind the required tests.

Most of these labs in the US deliver the reports between 24 to 48 hours after the sample pickup. But the requirement of increased testing doesn’t only mean to ‘run more tests’ it also means to make the supplies and other lab equipment available which causes the delay in these results.

On the other side, medical experts warn that a shortage of timely tests and coronavirus contact tracing will make the situation worst.

Also read- 1.1 Million Britons Quit Smoking Amid Covid-19 Crisis

In this situation, this study highlights the importance of personal precautionary measures i.e. social distancing, wearing a mask, and avoiding meeting people to help to limit the infections.

It also demands the efficacy testing of these contact tracing apps and what is the best way to make the tracing fast. Despite the efforts from medical staff, researchers working on the coronavirus vaccine, and administrative bodies to re-evaluate policies, the contact tracing still remains a major part of coronavirus pandemic response for saving more people from this deadly virus.

Areeba Hussain

The author is a fulltime medical and healthcare writer. She graduated in Medical Microbiology and Immunology with distinction. Her areas of prime interest are medicine, medical technology, disease awareness, and research analysis. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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