Epidemiologist: High-tech mapping used to trace covid patients

Epidemiologist Dr Avery Hinds speaks at a press briefing at the Ministry of Health, Port of Spain, on Tuesday. - Vidya Thurab
Epidemiologist Dr Avery Hinds speaks at a press briefing at the Ministry of Health, Port of Spain, on Tuesday. - Vidya Thurab

As part of efforts to trace the movements of people infected with the coronavirus while monitoring possible future cases, Government has been using mapping systems to try to contain widespread infections.

Speaking at a media briefing at the Ministry of Health, Park Street, Port of Spain, on Tuesday, epidemiologist Dr Avery Hinds demonstrated the system and explained the concept behind community spreading in reference to the coronavirus.

During his remarks, Hinds also stressed the importance of self-isolation and sought to explain how quickly the disease could spread between people from various points of contact.

"Contact tracing is a simple process that involves identifying people who may be potentially exposed (to infection) and people who are confirmed cases of covid19. We ask those infected people who they would have been in contact with which would be family members, these are people who are primary contacts who should quarantine themselves.

"We use technology to make a geographic image of where our contacts may be and this helps us to understand where to allocate resources. This Geographic Information System (GIS) gives us a framework of where to start looking, gathering information and looking at where people live and move around."

Hinds said, using the information from mapping, infected people could be interviewed to to find out who they were in contact with and control the spread of the virus through early treatment and isolation.

He also said people infected by a carrier were considered points of primary contact. In turn, he said each of those contacts could spread the disease if allowed to mix with others either at work or schools and create secondary points of contact.

National Security Minister Stuart Young said even with the technological resources at Government's disposal it was important for the public to do their part in staying at home to avoid the spread of the infection.

He also called on the media to be responsible in reporting coronavirus cases, citing a recent report of citizens being trapped abroad from a newspaper article.

"As we were sitting here preparing for this conference a media house reading the latest release from the Ministry of Health was someone who had primary contact rush out with headlines 'Community spread starts in TT,' the use of technical terms is very important at this stage.

"Let us be responsible, because it is now the media will help the rest of the population in getting the right information which will come from the Ministry of Health."

Referring to the 53rd case of covid19 which was detected in a man who arrived at the ANR International airport in Tobago, Young said the man was expected to be brought back to Trinidad on a coast guard vessel on Tuesday for quarantine and treatment.

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