As we move through the Safe Exit Framework contact tracing has an increasingly important role to play in Jersey's COVID-19 strategy. Following the relaxation of measures the number of social interactions that individuals have will increase as every day life starts to return to normal.
Contact tracing allows us to identify those that are at the highest risk of catching the virus from a person who has been confirmed as having COVID-19 through a positive PCR test.
Contact tracing starts with a positive PCR test
The contact tracing process only starts when there has been a laboratory confirmed case of COVID-19 established through a positive PCR test.
If an individual calls the helpline with
symptoms of COVID-19 the helpline will talk them through their symptoms to assess whether they need to have a
PCR test and
isolate while awaiting the result of the PCR test.
Only at the point that a PCR test comes back positive for COVID-19 does the contact tracing process begin.
On confirmation of a COVID-19 positive PCR result
If a COVID-19 positive PCR test is confirmed the contact tracing team will call the individual to let them know their result as soon as possible.
They will then have a number of conversations with the individual over the coming days to establish as complete a picture as possible of people that they may have come into close contact with during the active stage of their infection.
If a child or minor tests positive the contact tracing team will speak to their responsible adult, usually a parent.
An active COVID-19 positive person is usually infectious 48 hours prior to the start of any of their COVID-19 symptoms and up to the end of significant symptoms, usually 7 days. For individuals who are asymptomatic (for instance, they experience no symptoms), the contagious period is taken to be approximately 48 hours prior to the date of their positive test results and up to 7 days after their test.
Contract tracers may assess a slightly longer time period on a case by case basis, for example with asymptomatic patients or because of the antibody results of an individual
Through the contact tracing process, the intention is to identify everyone who may have spent more than 15 minutes (inside or outside) within 2 metres or less, or had direct physical contact without personal protective equipment, with an individual who is currently an active positive person.
These are known as 'direct contacts'.
Anyone who was outside this time and duration or did not have physical contact or wore suitable personal protective equipment is not classed as persons of interest and are categorised as 'indirect contacts'.
Contact tracers do not reveal the identity of the person who has tested positive without their full consent.
If you are a direct contact of a positive case the contract tracer will contact you and advise you of your potential risk from exposure to the virus. They will provide advice and guidance on your general welfare,
isolation and possible testing.
All direct contacts of a confirmed case will be offered a PCR test.
Indirect contacts of a positive case
The details of indirect contacts of a positive case may be recorded but the individuals will not be contacted or asked to isolate by the contact tracing team.
A confirmed positive case within the workplace, school or other setting
If an individual within a workplace, school or other setting is confirmed with a positive PCR test then the contact tracing team will take the necessary action. It is important that you let the team carry out their work.
Through conversations with the positive individual the contact tracing team will determine who are their direct and indirect contacts during their infectious stage.
The contact tracing team will contact all those that have been identified as direct contacts and provide them with advice of isolation and possible testing.
Indirect contacts of the positive do not need to go home and self-isolate. They only need to contact the helpline should they develop symptoms themselves.
Reduce the number of direct contacts you have
Employers should consider the implications of the contact tracing process on their business continuity. The smaller the number of close or direct contacts (closer than 2 metres for 15 minutes or more) that all employees have, then then smaller the risk of the spread of the disease and the smaller the impact on their staffing levels should there be a confirmed case in their setting.
If all staff retain a two metre distance or only pass briefly within two metres (for less than 15 minutes) and there is a confirmed positive case within the workplace then the contact tracing team would not assess anyone as a direct contact and would not need to contact other staff members and ask them to isolate.
Collecting contact information
As we begin to resume activities which present a higher transmission risk, it is important that officers with responsibility for contact tracing have access to information that enables them to quickly identify and contact individuals who may have come into direct contact with an infected person.
For this reason, those operating businesses, organisations and activities where this may happen are asked, where practicable, to keep a record of people who are using their services or who attend gatherings.
Advice for businesses: collecting contact information
Further information is available to support business in doing this from the
Office of the Information Commissioner.
The Government of Jersey has an important and vital obligation to protect the ongoing health of Jersey's general public and undertake measures to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). The Government may need to request information about you from others, for example when you may have come in to contact with someone who has the virus or where we have no other means of contacting you.
Government of Jersey Coronavirus (COVID-19) privacy notice provides details about how this information will be collected, stored and shared in respect to data protection legislation.
Additional information is available from the
Jersey Office of the Information Commissioner which has published a statement of data protection and coronavirus.