Health officials stress importance of contact tracing in fight against COVID-19

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Health experts in Oklahoma say contact tracing will be key to lifting stay-at-home recommendations across the state and reopening of non-essential businesses.

“Contact investigations are the number one tool right now in this fight against COVID-19, and will be even more critical once society reopens,” said Hieremila Haile, OCCHD epidemiologist. “We urge everyone to remember that by limiting the number of individuals you come in close contact with (within 6 feet for 10 minutes or more), this will limit the spread of the virus and also decrease the time and resources required to conduct an epidemiological investigation.”

Contract tracing investigations work by identifying close contacts to a confirmed case during the initial investigation involving COVID-19 patients.

Close contacts are defined as individuals who were within six feet of the confirmed case for more than 10 minutes during the contagious period, which is two days prior to symptoms appearing and 14 days after.

Individuals who were in close contact with a positive case have a higher risk of having contracted the virus. This makes cooperation vital because it notifies those individuals who are positive and isolates them from others.

“It is about stopping the chain of transmission,” said Haile. “By identifying these individuals and having them isolate themselves, it reduces the probability of spreading the virus.”

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