Information being withheld from contact tracers: Roussin

WINNIPEG — Information is being withheld from COVID-19 contact tracers as they attempt to limit the spread of the disease, according to Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer.

During Monday’s daily COVID-19 news conference, Roussin said public health nurses have been finding people are being more reluctant to share information with them.

“So they’re not being forthcoming with where they had been and what contacts they may have had,” Roussin said. “And so obviously this limits our ability to track down contacts and have them isolate to prevent to stop those transmission chains.”

Though the issue is not a new one during the pandemic, health officials have noticed the problem growing. Some of the reasons for this could be pandemic fatigue or enforcement fears, however, Roussin stressed that the information is important in reducing COVID-19 cases.

“You don’t need to worry about this being reported to law enforcement officials, we’re just doing a contact investigation so that we can notify your contacts,” Roussin said.

Since last Friday, new infections have topped 1500 cases, with Roussin saying a lot of the transmission stems from social gatherings within households on private property and failure to self-isolate.

“People who are ill going for testing, but while they’re waiting for test results, their family members, who are high-risk contacts, have been out and about at school and at work and other gatherings and starting larger transmission chains,” Roussin said.

Not getting tested is another reason for the rise in case loads. People with mild symptoms, who recover after a couple of days and go out without getting tested, could still be infectious.

The benefits of contact tracing diminish as new infection numbers rise, according to Roussin. With daily infection rates above 500, combined with widespread community transmission, the source of many of the new infections are unknown.

“This is why we need to institute these public health measures, because contact tracing alone, when you have this much community transmission, won’t be able to reverse it,” Roussin said.

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