How contact tracers in London, Ont. are tracking the virus in the community, one case at a time.
The phone call goes straight to voicemail. A good sign, says Julie Frederick, who is trying to reach a London, Ont., man with a positive COVID-19 test result. She expects he’s on the other line and will call back — there’s a tight window for him to do so.
“It is something that we need to have happen the day that we get a positive result,” says Frederick, a public health investigator with the Middlesex-London Health Unit, who is currently doing contact tracing for the region.
If she can’t connect over the phone, her team will send someone in protective gear to knock on the door. It’s rare, she says, but it happens.
On this particular weekday, Frederick’s hunch that her call will be returned pans out. Standing in her workplace cubicle, headphones on, Frederick spends the next 30 minutes or so going through a precise list of questions that covers everything from symptoms, to the layout of the person’s home — how easily can he isolate from his family?
The man she’s talking to is Mathew Mackay. He says he thinks he knows where he caught COVID-19. Someone in his small apartment complex was recently infected, and they share a laundry room.
Mackay has been self-isolating and has had no contact with anyone outside his home. His symptoms are improving. So Frederick shares some recommendations for how he and his family should continue to quarantine, makes plans to connect again, and ends the call.