WHO lauds UP’s contact tracing measures for Covid-19 control | India News


LUCKNOW: UP’s strategy to control Covid-19 during the peak has been lauded by the World Health Organization. Profiling the state’s contact tracing mechanism in a special feature published on Thursday, the WHO noted that ‘early and systematic tracking of high-risk contacts helped Uttar Pradesh step up the fight against Covid-19’.
“When the cases surged post lifting of curbs, as part of its surveillance response activities with support from WHO, the state government put in place a mechanism to evaluate the status and quality of contact tracing to guide policy level decision making for an informed public health response,” it said, noting that being the most populous state its fight against Covid-19 has been particularly challenging.
Acknowledging that contact tracing was an essential public health tool for controlling disease outbreaks, WHO India representative Dr Roderico Ofrin said: “The UP government’s strategic response to Covic-19 by stepping up contact tracing efforts is exemplary and can serve as a good example for other states.”
“A huge workforce of more than 70,000 front-line health workers listed the contacts of Covid-19 positive cases. In all, they were able to record a 90% of achievement. However, the state wanted to evaluate the quality of contact tracing for which the WHO was roped in as an independent evaluation agency when the trend of Covid-19 cases was rising,” said Dr Vikasendu Agarwal, state surveillance officer, UP.
Accordingly, the WHO trained over 800 field monitors to aid the process and also list out the gaps if any. The strategy – an algorithm-based work protocol – targeted early tracking of high risked contacts including family members of those who tested positive.
The well-trained 800 field monitors – prepared by WHO National Public Health Surveillance Project (NPSP) — conducted telephonic interviews of laboratory-confirmed positive cases through a predetermined set of questions developed by the WHO team to maintain a uniform response.
The objective included checking the testing status of the family members, reasons for non-testing and information on clinical symptoms. Data were collected daily at the state office for analysis to list out trends and study patterns and shared with the government regularly for their review. “The recommendations of this special group helped us tailor our response strategy accordingly to address the challenges,” Dr Agrawal said.
WHO NPSP regional team leader, UP, Dr Madhup Bahpai said that the interview findings revealed that the average number of high-risk contacts per positive case was 3.5. A total of 1,63,536 high-risk contacts were identified during this exercise by field monitors and 93% of the high-risk contacts had been contacted and tested for Covid-19.
“The missed 7% high-risk contacts strengthened the conclusion that early and systematic tracking of contacts through a proper mechanism is imperative to put up a responsive public health response to contain the pandemic,” Dr Bhapi added.
Field monitor, WHO NPSP, Ajay Srivastava, who was involved in the exercise, said that sometimes it was difficult to obtain information as some respondents were apprehensive about sharing their details, considering the stigma and fear associated with the virus.
As an additional awareness effort on infection prevention and control measures, the team also used this opportunity to educate respondents about the key safety measures to fight against Covid-19 to ensure their safety and the safety of their family members.



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