When Christian S Rimalos heard that SGH’s Infection Prevention & Epidemiology Department was looking for volunteers to boost its contact tracing efforts on SGH campus due to the spike of COVID-19 cases, he responded to the call. “I knew I needed to help in some way,” says Christian, who is one of the four staff from SNEC who has stepped forward to work as contact tracers since late March.
An Assistant Manager at SNEC’s Clinical Audit (CA) Department, Christian reveals that most colleagues in his department have undergone training and refresher courses in contact tracing at SNEC through the years. “We’re the tip of the spear when it comes to gathering information,” he assures.
“Contact tracers can be activated at any time, even on weekends and public holidays,” Christian shares. If activated during working hours, he will have to arrive at SGH within 30 minutes; outside working hours, he has an hour. This is on top of his regular duties. His teammates from SNEC include CA Department colleague Yang You Nian, Haneedah Binte Mohamed Ali from Nursing, and Nancy Goh from Listing.
When activated, all of them would conduct a phone interview with suspect or confirmed cases. He adds that an activity map is crucial for each patient they counsel. This is a detailed list of places the patient was at and people he was with in the 14 days prior to the onset of his symptoms. They then call each of these people to verify the information. In order to better assess the risk of virus transmission, contact tracers have to find out whether the people around the patient were wearing PPE, what kind of activity they were engaged in, and how long they were together. If the patient had been on a flight, they will obtain information such as the flight details and seat number from the patient. Christian adds that one of his most challenging tasks is locating foreigners. Another team of tracers will look at reports to check for overlaps in people and place and flag these linkages.
“Contact tracing is a critical step in containing the coronavirus pandemic. I am grateful for this valuable opportunity to be part of this important COVID-19 response work.”
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