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Karnataka traces 47 contacts per coronavirus patient, highest in the country

Last Updated : 20 June 2020, 17:23 IST

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"The technology-backed system involving multi-sectoral government teams for contact tracing of COVID-19 cases has helped the state to effectively trace and track each case thereby
successfully containing the spread of the epidemic. Practices followed in Karnataka are worth replicating."

These are the words of Rajesh Bhushan, officer-on-special-duty from the union health ministry, whose letter to all states lauding Karnataka's contact tracing model has gone viral on social media. According to the state COVID-19 war room, Karnataka traces 47 contacts per patient on an average which is the highest in the country.

The state has involved more than 10,000 government field staff for the job. A contact tracing mobile app and web application helps the officers if the patient forgets to reveal or tries to hide where they have been or whom they have met.

How? The job of retracing the steps of a patient is divided among two teams. Team 1 talks to the patients as soon as he or she tests positive and uploads the contacts of all the people the patient recollects about in the contact tracing app. The police also obtains call data records of these patients and passes it on to team one.

Now all contacts and their addresses are available for everyone to see on the contact tracing app. Team 2 visits the homes of these contacts, enters relevant information in the app.

"So if a new contact is entered in Bengaluru but with the address of Bidar district, then it will immediately flow to a field team 2 member of Bidar for home visit at Bidar," said Munish Moudgil, head of the state COVID-19 war room.

As on Friday, 1,628 patients in the state were either primary or secondary contacts of previously diagnosed patients in the state.

"About 10 per cent primary contacts have turned positive in Karnataka. Manual follow up is impossibly difficult beyond the initial stages. The patient can name only those known to them. But many times in public places, they would meet strangers and infect them. All such contacts cannot be traced with information obtained from COVID-19 patients," he said.

"The manual press goes on for many days and is incomplete. This defeats the very purpose of contact tracing which is to identify likely infected persons and quarantine them for 14 days to stop likely spread. The process of identifying all contacts, hand-stamping and quarantining them is completed within 24 to 36 hours of a patient testing positive," he added.

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Published 20 June 2020, 17:23 IST

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