COVID-19: How Kerala's model is helping contact tracing

How Kerala's flowchart model is helping effective coronavirus contact tracing

An ambulance driver, wearing protective suits, prepares to exit the Special Isolation Ward with novel coronavirus patients at Kochi Medical college, in Kerala, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. Credit: PTI Photo

A patient flowchart model initiated by the health authorities in Kerala is turning out to be an effective one as, so far, it has helped nearly a hundred people figure out that they had come in contact with the infected people in the state at some point in time.

The Pathanamthitta district administration had initiated the flow chart model on Wednesday and considering its effectiveness in contact tracing, the Kottayam district has also adopted the model.

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Pathanamthitta District Medical Officer Dr. Sheeja A L said that since the three member of a family who had returned from Italy skipped the coronavirus screening at the airport, they had travelled to many public places like hotels and shops within Pathanamthitta as well as in Kottayam, Kollam and Kochi for more than a week before they were finally isolated. The most challenging task was to trace all those who had come in contact with them. Hence, the officials prepared a flowchart based on the travel history of the family and published it on Wednesday so that others could identify if they were present at any of those spots at the same time as the infected persons.

By Wednesday evening itself, about 70 persons had contacted the health authorities and informed that they seemed to have come in contact with the family. Even a group of around ten workers, with some of its members now in Palakkad district, contacted the health authorities and informed that, as per the flowchart, they seemed to have come in contact with the family at a hotel. While five workers were quarantined by the health officials in Palakkad, efforts were on to trace the other five in the group who are said to be working in another south Kerala district currently, said Dr. Sheeja.

The flowchart idea came up during discussions of officials conducted by Pathanamthitta district collector P B Nooh on finding ways of effective contact tracing.

On Thursday, Kottayam district administration published the flowchart based on the travel history of two infected persons from the district -- the daughter and son-in-law of the infected couple hailing from Pathanamthitta.

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