Northern Health (NH) is making additional changes to their contact tracing and follow-ups for COVID-19 cases.
In a news release, the health authority said that northern B.C. residents who test positive for COVID-19 will now receive a single call from public health, during which they will be given self-isolation instructions including the date their self-isolation will end. While, a second call, confirming the end of self-isolation, will no longer be made.
This change brings NH on par with other health authorities’ approach to case follow up.
NH’s media representative Eryn Collins, explained why these changes are being implemented.
“There are a few reasons for making this streamlining change to the process: for the majority of cases, the final follow up is not necessary, as ending-isolation instructions can be easily followed by the client without a second discussion; some people have even expressed frustration with receiving multiple calls from Public Health; other health authorities have also moved to a single call process to further streamline the client experience,” she said, adding that those who have any uncertainties about ending isolation can reach out to the number provided during the initial call, at which they can contact public health with any outstanding questions they may have.
According to the news release, these changes are a result of NH trying to make the process of testing and contact-tracing faster. “The Northern Health region continues to experience relatively high rates of COVID-19 activity, and NH Public Health case and contact tracing teams continue to adjust the process for notifying, monitoring and clearing cases from self-isolation requirements,” said the release.
These changes come on the heels of the December 2020 changes in timeline for follow up with newly lab-confirmed cases, due to the increasing number of cases. NH said that while December’s shift focused resources on detailed contact tracing for cases such as known clusters and outbreaks, health care workers, school communities, industrial projects and Indigenous communities, this work will continue along with the implementation of the new changes.
NH is asking those who receive a message with a COVID-19 positive test result, to self-isolate immediately, along with those in their household, and advise their close contacts outside of the household that they should self-monitor for symptoms. NH also maintained that with swift COVID-19 result delivery options available, it is possible that individuals will receive their results before they get a call from public health.
“Gatherings and social interactions continue to result in COVID-19 transmissions in the north, but community-level spread of the virus is also a risk given our current rates of COVID-19 activity,” said NH Chief Medical Health Officer, Dr. Jong Kim in another news release issued by NH.
“We truly need Northern BC residents to stay focused on prevention and protecting themselves and their loved ones, through the Family Day holiday and into the spring.”
If you are experiencing potential COVID-19 symptoms, self-isolate, and contact your primary care provider or the NH COVID-19 Virtual Clinic and Information Line at 1-844-645-7811.