B.C. is hiring 500 new contact tracers to help track COVID-19

Hiring 500 contact tracers

UPDATE: 1:20 p.m.

Premier John Horgan announced Wednesday the province will be hiring 500 healthcare professionals to increase the contact tracing capacity in B.C.

The new positions will start in September, in preparation for a possible surge of COVID-19 cases come the fall.

Contact tracing involves reaching out to all the people who've been in direct contact with a COVID-positive person, to ensure these contacts self-isolate so as not to potentially infect others.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said while many people have just learned about contact tracing, it is “bread and butter work for public health.”

The new hires are expected to come from recently retired nurses and other healthcare professionals, along with recent graduates.

Dr. Henry said they've been able to contact about 98 per cent of contacts of COVID-positive people, and the vast majority of new cases of the virus are linked to other known cases

Currently, about 1,700 British Columbias are being followed up with on a daily basis after coming in close contact with COVID-19. Dr. Bonnie added that those who are directed to self-isolate must do so, under a public health order, and enforcement measures could come into play if these orders aren't followed. 

She added contact tracing will be important to keep COVID-19 at bay in the province for “many months, maybe even years,” until an effective vaccine is developed.

ORIGINAL: 12:55 p.m.

Premier John Horgan, along with Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix, update British Columbians on the province’s plan for recovering from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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