The rigorous contact tracing seems to have been nearly abandoned in many parts of India as the cases are rising. The states with high confirmed cases are testing very few contacts of ever confirmed cases.
Contact tracing which is playing an important role in containing the spread of coronavirus by breaking the chain of transmission and isolating contacted people as they could be infected too.
The Union Health Ministry also has emphasized the need for contact tracing of those who tested positive to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Nutan Mundeja, Director General of health services also called “Contact tracing as the backbone of containment and surveillance”. She said, “The disease cannot be stopped if you don’t do contact tracing”.
Earlier the central government has asked states to adopt Karnataka’s contact tracing mechanism but now it has been hit as the cases are rising, and contact tracing is less.
In south Delhi, a mental health professional and her husband were tested positive for Covid-19. The health departments responded and were quarantined at their home as they were having mild symptoms. The health workers were also in touch through telephone calls to know their progress and Municipality workers also arrived at their building to sanitize it the very next day.
But no one asked them to whom they have come in contact with the previous days, though the women have also conducted the mental health workshop a week earlier.
She said, “There were no attempts to conduct contact tracing. They did not ask us where we had gone, whom we may have met, nothing. In fact I myself called my neighbours and tell them that they should get tested as we may have come in contact on the lift or in any other common areas of the building.”
- Covid-19 recovery rate near 80% in Delhi, plans to turn stadiums into Covid care centers put on hold
- Empowering advanced education among Haryanvi girls; Haryana government to arrange passport for all girls completing education
Similarly, On June 6 in Assam, a government employee tested positive in the antigen test. His wife and daughter were tested for covid-19 but no attempts were made to trace other contacts with whom he came in touch with. His wife said, “No one has asked us anything.” And her husband has been regularly going for work.
Similarly, various cases have been reported in different cities.
In a letter to all the states in June, the government has pulled the legs of some states for not doing “Contact tracing” appropriately. But didn’t mentioned their names and also asked states to ensure tracing and quarantine contacts of at least 80% of the new cases within 72 hours of confirmation of the contacts.
Why Contact Tracing is not Possible?
A senior health official from Assam has told Scroll, “When there was one patient with 50 contacts, you can do rigorous contact tracing but when there are 00 patients with 50 contacts, it is not possible as the numbers of contacts are too many.”
Dr. k Sudhakar, Medical Education Minister said to the Indian Express, “The same people we have been doing contact tracing for last few months and are continuing with it and are fatigued. We have decided to change our model.”
Is there any other Substitute?
Several states are adopting mass testing, instead of contact testing; taking advantage of rapid antigen testing as its results come in less than 30 minutes.
Also, the states are trying to conduct door-to-door antigen testing in the areas of high exposure and containment zones and the states have also developed many mobile apps to keep track.
However, Reddy said to Scroll that mass testing was not a substitute for rigorous contact tracing. He again mentioned, “Increase in testing is essential but should be done following a particular structure and method and should be associated with contact tracing.”