Calgary

Contact tracing a challenge as Alberta cases surge

Contact tracing is growing increasingly difficult as Alberta's COVID-19 cases surge once again. The province recorded another 133 cases on Wednesday continuing an upward trend.

AHS has added 75 new staff to team of 150 to keep up with demand

Contact tracing is about identifying, informing and monitoring people who might have come in contact with a person who has been diagnosed with an infectious disease, such as COVID-19. (Thomas Daigle/CBC)

Contact tracing is growing increasingly difficult as Alberta's COVID-19 cases surge once again.

The province recorded another 133 cases on Wednesday continuing an upward trend.

Dr. David Strong with Alberta Health Services says it's a challenge to keep up.

"Alberta's spike in COVID-19 cases is putting pressure on the team of contact tracers. With the numbers going up, obviously the volumes are going up," Strong told CBC News.

"We're still aiming to try and complete investigations within 48 hours. We're not quite hitting those targets right now."

Contact tracing is about identifying, informing and monitoring people who might have come in contact with a person who has been diagnosed with an infectious disease, such as COVID-19.

Dr. Lauren Bilinsky, a University of Calgary medical resident, knows contact tracing inside and out.

She helped organize a group of 400 Alberta med students who assisted with the investigations earlier in the pandemic.

Investigations more complicated post isolation

Bilinsky says investigations are more complicated and take longer now that many restrictions have lifted.

"If a [person who tested positive] has been out at a public place like a restaurant, a park, a gym or a bar, in those sort of scenarios … they don't know all the people around them, so they can't give a list of contacts," she said.

"The contact tracer has to do a bit more detective work."

For each COVID-19 case there are about 16 contacts investigators must track down.

Alberta Health Services is working to recruit more contact tracers so it can catch up on the backlog.

They have added 75 new staff to the current team of about 150 and are looking for more.

With files from Jennifer Lee

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