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Contact Tracing and Public Health Prevention from SARS (SARS-CoV) to COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2)

by Cameron H. Shelley, MPH | July 10, 2020 | Blog

Contact tracing is typically a labor-intensive endeavor requiring investigator experience in finding individuals, gathering vital information, and determining potential exposure settings. Contact tracing remains a vital step in stopping the spread of COVID-19, but it often relies on an individual’s inaccurate or fuzzy memory and stressed responses to determine specifics of where the person was in the many days prior to diagnosis and any close encounters meeting the epidemiological definition of likely transmission.

In March 2003, a notable contact tracing effort began related to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) with a case fatality ratio of up to 50% and R0 (reproduction number) of 3. The rapid spread of SARS from China to Hong Kong and then to multiple other countries within a week forever changed the face of public health. This led to rapid, large-scale measures for information dissemination, early case detection and isolation, tracing and quarantining contacts, traveler screening, public risk awareness and heightened infection control measures.

The first SARS outbreak provided several important lessons learned. Health agencies clearly needed automated tools to monitor SARS spread more precisely and support efficiency for the public health workforce, open data sharing between countries, and increased international public health funding. After SARS was effectively halted, experts expressed concerns that SARS was just the tip of the iceberg, warning of a larger pandemic.The critical need became clear for governments to support initiatives to improve disease surveillance, outbreak management, and build better laboratory infrastructure.

Present day – 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic: The digital revolution, including tools providing enhanced contact tracing schematics, analytics, Bluetooth technology, and data visualization is well beyond what it was during the 2003 SARS outbreak. Health officials and investigators using platforms such as Sunquest WorldCare are finding new channels to quickly identify chains of transmission so they can track, trace, isolate, quarantine, treat and better prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Contact tracing, combined with an agile disease surveillance and outbreak management platform, remains the single most effective tool in safeguarding communities from COVID-19. The Sunquest WorldCare solution for contact tracing both establishes and displays patient/contact linkages and locations frequented, enabling users to focus efforts on contact tracing resources. These features, combined with geographical mapping systems, allow health agencies to target prevention methods in specific regions.

About the author
Cameron Shelley
Cameron H. Shelley
MPH Senior Professional Services Consultant

Cameron H. Shelley is the Senior Professional Services Consultant at Sunquest Information Systems where he acts as the clients’ technical advocate within the company by promoting ideas that contribute toward a more efficient and productive implementation of products that meet the clients’ business needs.

About the author
Cameron Shelley
Cameron H. Shelley
Manager, Client Training

Cameron H. Shelley is the Senior Professional Services Consultant at Sunquest Information Systems where he acts as the clients’ technical advocate within the company by promoting ideas that contribute toward a more efficient and productive implementation of products that meet the clients’ business needs.

California, the world’s 5th largest economy,and other U.S. states and international jurisdictions rely on Sunquest WorldCare. The system has been designed with flexibility and robust contact tracing features in mind, allowing users to keep up to date with changing times in this pandemic. For more information on Sunquest WorldCare Contract Tracing module, download our Product Intro:

Contact Tracing Module

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Posted on by Jay Griggs