On average, primary contacts per patient range from 2 to 25 in districts in Karnataka

 thehindu.com  08/02/2020 15:18:46 

A district-wise analysis of primary contacts per patient in the last fortnight shows there is a stark difference in the average number of primary contacts traced from every patient who tested positive in the State.

According to data provided by the State COVID-19 war room, Chamarajanagar has reported the highest number of primary contacts, with an average of 25 for every person who tested positive in the last fortnight.

However, in some districts such as Davangere and Bengaluru Rural, on an average only two primary contacts have been traced for every positive case.

In Bengaluru Urban, which is reporting the highest number of positive cases in the State, on an average three primary contacts were traced from every patient who tested positive in the last fortnight.

Public health experts and doctors pointed out that the district administrations that have identified very few primary contacts should pull up their socks and ensure they do not give up on contact tracing. Giridhara R. Babu, professor and head, Lifecourse Epidemiology, Public Health Foundation of India, Bengaluru, who is also a member of the COVID-19 technical advisory committee, said, Priority should be given to contact tracing as much as possible, with focus on household contacts, healthcare workers, high-risk closed settings, and vulnerable contacts. Identifying the cases immediately and extensive contact tracing are critical to maintaining low levels of transmission. This will help us to rapidly identify and break new transmission chains and save lives.

Madhu S., a resident of west Bengaluru, said no Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike official called them and asked about the people they had come in touch with after one of their relatives tested positive. We ourselves had to make calls to our friends, relatives, and neighbours, and inform them to remain in home quarantine, she said.

Initially, when the pandemic started, we ensured that we traced not only traced the primary contacts, but also the secondary contacts, and asked them to strictly maintain home quarantine. But now, we are short on manpower and all our focus is on ensuring that the patients who test positive get the necessary medical intervention, said a senior BBMP official.

Officials in some districts, however, pointed out that while contact tracing was being done rigorously on the field, the numbers were not being updated in the system as many officials were not tech-savvy.

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