Contact tracing is the process of identifying, educating and monitoring people who have had close contact with someone infected with COVID-19. These people are at greater risk of becoming infected and sharing the virus with others. Public health officials use contact tracing to help people who’ve been in contact with the virus understand their risk and limit further spread of the virus by getting tested and self-isolating.
Identifying people who are infected with the virus and people they might have infected is essential for preventing the spread of COVID-19 in our communities and keeping everyone safe.
Why should I keep track of my contacts?
Keeping track of your contacts can help keep your friends, your family, and anyone else you interact with as safe as possible. If you get tested for COVID-19 or get diagnosed with COVID-19, a public health worker will contact you and ask you where you’ve been, who you have had close contact with, and when that contact was. It can be hard to remember such details, especially when you may be feeling unwell or stressed. The information you have about your symptoms and your contacts can help public health identify who else needs to be tested.
You can help prepare for this by keeping track of your close contacts. Your list of contacts might not include every detail and that’s OK. Any information you can keep will help if you get sick, and it will help to protect those around you.
What does close contact mean?
Close contact means you interacted with someone within two metres for 15 minutes or more.
What interactions should I record?
You should record WHERE you went, WHEN you went there, and WHO you interacted with for more than 15 minutes. It’s also helpful to note if you or the other person were wearing masks, and if you were indoors or outdoors. You should also note anyone you interacted with that you may have exposed to infectious body fluids. For example, someone you coughed on, sneezed on or kissed.
How should I keep track of close contacts?
Tracking your contacts is simple. You should use whatever method works best for you. Consider keeping notes on your phone, recording voice notes on your phone, taking pictures of where you went, keeping a diary or journal or just writing notes on a piece of paper.
What if I don’t know the person I had close contact with?
Note WHERE and WHEN the contact took place, and anything you do know about them. For example, you had a prolonged conversation with a produce worker in your local grocery store. Contact tracers can use the information you do have to trace your contacts.
Should I write down everyone I pass on the street?
No. The most important contacts to note are the close contacts, and anyone that you may have exposed to body fluids. You can also note any additional interactions you think are important. For example, someone you interact with often but not for a prolonged period of time, such as a building concierge.
Is there a contact tracing app in Ontario?
Yes. As of July 31st, all Ontarians are able to download the new Health Canada COVID Alert Contact Notification app (Canada COVID-19). While the app is not mandatory, the more people that download the app, the more effective it will be.
The app is designed to help you stay informed about COVID-19 and determine what actions and next steps you should take. Recommendations and content are automatically updated based on the latest guidelines related to COVID-19.
How does the COVID Alert Contact Notification App work?
When someone tests positive for COVID-19, their local public health authority will provide them with a one-time key to enter in the app. A notice will then be sent to every device that has been within two (2) metres for at least 15 minutes of the person who has tested positive over the last 14 days. Those that receive a notification will also receive instructions on what to do next.
*Notification will only occur on phones where the app has been downloaded.
Are there any privacy concerns I should be worried about?
While you should always be mindful of the information you share, the government has been working with the federal privacy commissioner to address any privacy concerns.
The app utilizes bluetooth technology to exchange signals with nearby phones. Users will only be asked to provide their age, postal code, and device location. This information will be combined with all user data and used to inform the provincial COVID-19 response, and to allow you to receive location-based alerts.
The app follows industry best practices for data security and privacy. Data provided is always encrypted and is stored in Canada.
To download the COVID Alert Contact Notification App, visit the following website: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19/covid-alert.html
*This information was adapted from the Ontario Medical Association’s website: https://www.virusfacts.ca/