Sunday 31 May, 2020

Bahamas CMO answers: Is quarantine mandatory in contact tracing?

Bahamas Chief Medical Officer Pearl McMillan

Bahamas Chief Medical Officer Pearl McMillan

Contact tracing is the main tool being used by ministries of health to contain the COVID-2019 disease.

And quarantine is a tool in the health officials' arsenal, but it is not applied in every situation.

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Making this point clear after the first COVID-positive patient presented at the Princess Margaret Hospital in The Bahamas was the Chief Medical Officer Pearl McMillan.

McMillian told the media: "The family will be part of our contact tracing investigation, as required we will go ahead and do the necessary testing. We are very early in the investigation."

Noting that the Ministry was now in the process of gathering the details to determine how long she was at the Hospital, she explained that the surveillance team was already at work.

McMillian assured that the Ministry will use "aggressive" contact tracing. 

Responding to the question of 'What is contact tracing?', she said:

"Contact tracing is part of the public health measures that we apply...if we get like a confirmed diagnosis we need to look in the immediate environment, we need to ask certain questions to determine where they might have been, who they might have come into contact with and then we move in the direction of actually, you know, asking questions around in a circular way around that individual to determine exactly where the potential of exposure may have occurred.

"So contact tracing will be actually asking certain questions of the individual and as we find out additional information, we widen the circle."

Asked if contact tracing includes mandatory quarantine, she added:

"Certainly, if we determine that these persons were exposed we will have to determine, likely put them into a quarantine situation whether or not that would be a quarantine site like we had, it could be a isolation - a quarantine away from persons who are in the home.

"There are a number of ways you could do quarantine, but when you have actually documented an exposure you usually do the isolation measures."

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