“Concerning rise” in Albertans ignoring COVID-19 contact tracers prompts warning from Dr. Hinshaw

Dr. Deena Hinshaw stressed the importance of Alberta’s contact tracing process in stopping the spread of COVID-19 Wednesday, after health officials have reported a “concerning rise” in the number of people who have been unwilling to participate in the “essential” tool.

Hinshaw said in December less one per cent of Albertans who either tested positive or were deemed a close contact of someone who was infected refused to answer the phone or respond to messages from contact tracers.

“Since then we’ve seen a concerning rise in those we can’t get ahold of; 1.9 per cent of all cases in January and 1.3 per cent so far in February,” Hinshaw said.

There’s also been an increase in the number of people who, at first, are cooperative with contact tracers, but eventually refuse to give the necessary information needed so contact tracers can then follow up with their possible contacts.

The contact tracers then have to follow up with phone calls and send written notice to the individuals, notifying them of the information Alberta Health needs, under the Public Health Act.

“This leaves gaps that COVID is happy to fill,” Hinshaw said.

“It may be tempting to think that not providing information will make COVID go away. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. Trying to ignore COVID and not participating with contact tracing only pushes back the day we can ease restrictions further by giving the virus opportunity to spread farther and faster without being stopped.”

She said contact tracing remains an essential part of Alberta’s COVID-19 response, and it “relies on a partnership with Albertans who test positive or who have been exposed.”

Hinshaw said Albertans can expect an update “in the coming days” on the work Alberta Health has been doing to increase its contact tracing capacity, which started in the fall.

Hinshaw reported 277 new COVID-19 infections over the last 24 hours, from 7,500 tests, putting the province’s positivity rate at 3.9 per cent. Three-hundred-seventy people were being treated in hospital as of Wednesday, with 60 of them in intensive care units.

Hinshaw said hospitalizations have plateaued in the last few days, which should serve as “a reminder that we must continue to protect the health system.”

More than 56,500 Albertans were fully immunized with two doses of vaccine as of Wednesday, and roughly 152,000 doses in total had been administered across the province.

For more info, please go to https://globalnews.ca/news/7645980/coronavirus-alberta-covid-19-update-february-17-2021/

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Source: Global News

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