As part of ongoing efforts to break the transmission of coronavirus in the community, contact tracer teams from the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. are doing field investigations to identify persons who have been potentially exposed to a COVID-19 case.
According to a statement from the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force and CHCC over the weekend, every COVID-19 case begins as a contact with another COVID-19 case. “Thus breaking the transmission is essential to not only controlling the spread of coronavirus, but also quickly identifying potential new cases to allow us to isolate them and prevent them from transmitting the virus onto others,” the statement said.
“As is the case with community field work for follow up on persons suspected of active tuberculosis disease or dengue, COVID-19 contact training methods involve similar methods of teams interviewing the patient and identifying his/her contacts, evaluating their level of exposure, and determining follow-up actions.
“Data from these field investigations informs contact network analysis, which enable CHCC to make connections between cases and contacts. This analysis also allows us to identify connections not originally identified which may lead to additional exposed persons.
Figure 1: Example of contact network analysis
This graphic depicts three cases (triangle/red), with identified contacts (circle/blue), and their exposure pathways. The yellow triangle overlapping the circle represents a contact who, after being identified through contract tracing, is confirmed as a new case. Thus, there are four total cases identified in the graphic.
“In order for the CHCC CTTs to be successful in their effort to identify all possible exposed persons, it is vitally important that community members are forthright with CTT questions. Holding back information only delays our investigative efforts, potentially contributing to missed opportunities to break the transmission. As a security measure, we remind community members who may be questioned by our CTTs to request these staff to present their CHCC and COVID-19 Task Force identifications. The focus of CTTs questionnaire is to identify exposure connections to break the transmission of the virus (CTTs are not concerned with your ethnicity, citizenship, nor immigration status). CTTs are trained in all aspects of patient data confidentiality and privacy.
Figure 2: How contact tracing works
Stay at home, stop the spread
The Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force and CHCC continue to encourage residents within the Marianas to practice social distancing, which means avoiding close contact with people in order to avoid catching the virus yourself and to avoid passing it on to others.
Stay home as much as possible. Avoid unnecessary travel or public places.
Avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10.
Pick up food through drive-thru, take-out, or delivery options.
Only one healthy adult from the household should run necessary errands, such as getting groceries or picking up medications. Leave children, elderly, and other vulnerable people at home as much as possible. When returning home from an errand, wash your hands before doing anything else.
Older adults and people with chronic medical conditions are at higher risk of getting very sick from this illness. People at high risk should stay at home as much as possible.
Create a household plan of action https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/checklist-household-ready.html
Ensure a 30-day supply of all medicines.
Continue good hand hygiene
Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, avoid touching your face, cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your sleeve.
Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available.
Know the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and what to do if you become symptomatic:
Stay home when you are sick and if you recently traveled to a place with COVID-19. Self-quarantine means:
Choosing a room in your house that can be used to separate sick household members from others.
Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
To obtain general information about the CNMI COVID-19 response, contact the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force hotline at 287-0046 This number is available Monday to Sunday 7am-7pm.
For medical information about COVID-19, reach out to the COVID-19 infoline at the following numbers: 285-1542/1672/1352/1854. These numbers are available Monday to Sunday, 7:30am-8pm.
For mental health support and helpful tips during a crisis call the Mental Health Support Line at 285-1856/1857 These numbers are available Monday to Friday, 7:30am-4:30pm.
For more information about DIY face coverings, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover.html
For more information about CHCC programs, follow CHCC on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter at @cnmichcc, check out www.chcc.gov.mp or call (670) 234-8950. (PR)