COVID-19 contact notifications change once again

·2 min read

Albertans who test positive can now go online to www.ahs.ca/closecontactsand open the link COVID-19 Close Contact Tool. A form will come up where you enter your information, and the phone numbers of all those known to have been in close contact with. Once the form is submitted to AHS, the tracing team will review the information and send an automated text message notification to all the contacts on your list. As your identity will remain anonymous, the only information that will be displayed is the notification that they have been exposed to the virus and to self-isolate for 14 days. Additional information will be provided, such as testing requirements, symptoms, and isolation requirements. The new anonymous call-out system comes with much relief to the public. Many expressed concerns to AHS and commented on Facebook about being nervous and reluctant to admit to their close contacts that they may be responsible for passing on the virus.

Due to the overwhelming number of cases, and lack of available staff, AHS announced on November 5 that they will no longer be doing trace contacting for those who have tested positive. The onus was put on the infected individual to do their tracing and make the notifications with those they have come in contact with. Due to the complaints received about not knowing what to say when making the calls, AHS later posted a sample conversation that people could use as a template to make the notifications easier for both parties involved. AHS has stated they will still directly notify all close contact cases in health care workers, to those parents who have children in a school setting and were exposed and those who live or work within congregate or communal facilities.

Alberta Health Services gives a more explicit definition and defines a close contact as anyone who has been within two metres (six feet) of a positive case for 15 minutes or more of cumulative contact, without consistent and appropriate use of personal protective equipment. As stated in the announcement, “A close contact is also someone who has had direct contact with bodily fluids of a person who has COVID-19, such as being coughed or sneezed on, or who provided direct care for a person who has COVID-19, without consistent use and appropriate use of PPE.”

Another useful tool that first rolled out in 2019 and is consistently improving is the link to your health records at www.myhealth.alberta.ca/myhealthrecords. Under this portal, patients have access to their health records, lab results, the ability to print out health records, view dispensed medications and a section for personally tracking your health. The user can input their blood pressure readings, glucose testing or general health moods. There is a comprehensive verification process to go through when signing up, but once complete, the information will be protected using authentication and data encryption.

Vicki Winger, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Whitecourt Press