COVID-19 contact tracing – BMJ editorial
Please see a BMJ editorial which I co-authored on contact tracing, out just this afternoon.
Please consider asking your MPs and other national representatives, local councillors, and mayors to persuade the government to follow World Health Organization advice.
Public health directors are also urgently calling on NHS England to share detailed local coronavirus data collected by NHS 111 with councils to help them track the outbreak
Some links below which you may wish to use and you may find my letter to the North of Tyne Combined Authority useful too.
1. After its mission to China in February, the WHO recommended countries outside China with imported cases and/or outbreaks to “prioritize active, exhaustive case finding and immediate testing and isolation, painstaking contact tracing and rigorous quarantine of close contacts”- see page 21 of the Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission.
2. This was repeated by Dr Michael Ryan, Executive Director, WHO Health Emergencies Programme on the Andrew Marr show on 22 March: “What we really need to focus on is finding those who are sick, those who have the virus, and isolate them, find their contacts and isolate them”.
3. The epidemic is at different stages in different parts of the country. WHO’s interim guidance on Critical preparedness, readiness and response actions for COVID-19 (22 March 2020) includes a table that “describes the preparedness, readiness and response actions for COVID-19 for each transmission scenario”, from which the following is extracted:
Transmission scenario: Case finding, contact tracing and management
No cases: Conduct active case finding, contact tracing and monitoring; quarantine of contacts and isolation of cases.
Sporadic cases: Enhance active case finding, contact tracing and monitoring; quarantine of contacts and isolation of cases.
Clusters of cases: Intensify case finding, contact tracing, monitoring, quarantine of contacts, and isolation of cases.
Community transmission: Continue active case finding, continue contact tracing where possible, especially in newly infected areas, quarantine of contacts, and isolation of cases; apply self-initiated isolation for symptomatic individuals.
4. Professor Anthony Costello, Professor of Global Health and Sustainable Development at University College London, writing in The Guardian on 25 March 2020: “Rather than adopting a one-size-fits-all national policy, we need to devolve power to our local authorities and their public health outbreak teams.”
5. Failure to contact trace has been criticised by Prof Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet.