Delta is a different virus.
The latest variant of Covid-19 is a greater worry than the original strain. It’s highly contagious, more so than the common cold, and makes cases infectious much more quickly. Unfortunately, the variant also leads to higher rates of hospitalisation. The Auckland outbreak indicates that our hospital systems will struggle with the illness that Delta infections can cause.
Rapid contact tracing identifies and supports contacts of a person with Covid-19, preventing further transmission. It is a critically important role performed by public health units (PHUs) around New Zealand, supported by the National Investigation and Tracing Centre (NITC). The NITC is made up of several Ministry of Health teams and contracted providers.
Private and community-based allied health professionals such as physiotherapists, dentists and sexual health practitioners have been identified as a flexible workforce that could support the professional contact tracers in the event of an outbreak. At Alert Level 3 or 4, this workforce is unable to operate in-person - so has significant capacity and motivation to help.
But - we need to be ready to help fast.
If you can volunteer your time, we will help connect you to training opportunities that prepare you for contact tracing work. We are developing partnerships with PHU’s and contracted providers so that in the next surge we can contribute to the massive capacity, and capability, that is needed to keep ahead of Delta.
Join the reserves and make a difference in your community!
What is contact tracing?
Sioxsie Wiles, writing in The Spinoff explains:
“Contact tracers are teams of people who interview anyone confirmed or suspected of having the virus to find out who they have been in contact with since their symptoms started and for the two days before.
So, anyone they live with, work with, or have spent significant amounts of time with. Like people they’ve been out to dinner with, or been partying with, or played sports with. Those people may have been infected themselves, so they’ll be put into self-isolation to ensure they don’t pass on the virus to anyone else. If they do develop symptoms, they’ll be tested and if they weren’t caught fast enough then the process starts again.
Because of how quickly the virus can spread contact tracing needs to be fast, efficient, and effective. When we’re all in our bubbles in lockdown, contact tracing is relatively easy because most of us won’t have been in contact with many people.
But the further down the levels we move, the more contact we have with other people, the harder contact tracing becomes and the more likely the virus will be to spread".