Premier Horgan is seen during a discussion on reopening the province’s economy in phases in response to the COVID-19 pandemic at the provincial legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, May 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Premier Horgan is seen during a discussion on reopening the province’s economy in phases in response to the COVID-19 pandemic at the provincial legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, May 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

B.C. to hire 500 more COVID-19 contact tracers ahead of fall

Contract tracers add an ‘extra layer’ in the fight against the novel coronavirus

The province is hiring 500 additional staff to help with contact tracing as B.C. continues to see new cases of the novel coronavirus.

Contact tracing is a tool used to track a person’s whereabouts after they test positive for COVID-19 and contact anyone necessary to let them know they have been exposed to the disease.

“We want to make sure people are kept safe in any COVID-19 outbreak, and one of the ways to do that is through strong contact tracing,” Premier John Horgan said during a news conference on Wednesday (Aug. 12).

“These new contact tracers will provide an extra layer of protection by jumping into action as soon as there is an outbreak, and will start their detective-style work to find out who may be infected in order to protect all British Columbians.”

Some of those hired will also help in supporting public health services from education about the virus to immunizing for influenza in the fall.

Reducing the number of people with the flu helps alleviate the burden on provincial laboratory testing infrastructure and protects acute-care capacity in B.C.’s hospitals as respiratory illness season approaches this fall, according to Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer.

“When there is a community outbreak, time is of the essence,” she said. “These new contact tracers will work with existing public health teams to help track down all those who may have been exposed and support people to self-isolate when necessary.

“This role becomes even more crucial to contain the spread as we continue to open up our schools, economy and social activities, and as we prepare for the upcoming cold and flu season this fall.”

Those hired will begin working in September and likely be employed until the end of March 2021, the province said.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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