As part of measures towards containing the COVID-19 pandemic, new technology is being deployed almost everyday. Some of these new technologies help track the spread of the virus. This has brought about a lot of new terminologies in public health methods, technological measures and other terms that have become more regularly used due to the pandemic.
In order to solve the problem of confusion created by some of these new terms, this article has been created. This would make some of the terms a little less ambiguous especially as it pertains to contact tracing.
Contact tracing refers to the methods adopted towards unraveling the people an infected person may have come in touch with. This would take into account all the routes the person may have taken to during the time the person was unaware of his coronavirus status.
During contact tracing an orthodox method can be adopted by healthcare workers. This method involves interviewing infected persons to know the people they may have come in contact with.
Once this is done, healthcare workers would reach out to the people the infected person has come in contact with. When these people are identified, they could be asked to go into self-isolation and observe themselves. They would also be asked to go for proper test and obtain treatments if available.
Proximity tracking in contact tracing
This method involves the use of Bluetooth Low Energy( BLE). Proximity tracing measures how close users may be and, therefore, whether the virus could have been transmitted between the users. BLE is more effective than GPS in contact tracing. This is because while cell site location and GPS measure location, BLE measures proximity.
With the use of Bluetooth signal strength, the app would measure the extent of closeness of two users. The app would exchange identifiers if they are determined to have been less than about 6 feet apart for a considerable length of time.
Each app would create a log file with the identifier of the other person when they are less than 6 feet apart. If a user is diagnosed to be positive, the log file is used to identify and alert the other users.
Location tracking with contact tracing
Location trackers are apps which have been developed to determine which two persons may have been in the same place or environ. It makes use of location data from GPS to determine which users may have been at the same place at the same time.
The shortcoming of location tracking is the distances apart of phone users. GPS location data may not be adequate in determining whether users were less than about 6 feet apart. Nevertheless, it is still important in identifying a person’s daily routines including home and work places.