The Ontario government is working to expand contract tracing for confirmed cases of COVID-19.
The Province intends to have 1,600 case managers and contact tracers available as of February 15, 2021.
Including the staff who work in or have been redeployed within public health units, this would bring the total number of case and contact tracers in the province to nearly 5,600.
“Our government continues to use every resource at its disposal to fight COVID-19 and keep Ontarians safe,” Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, said in a news release.
“By expanding our case and contact management capacity, we are significantly boosting our ability to respond to the rising number of COVID-19 cases across the province. We are immensely grateful to our public health units and this provincial workforce, who are all working to keep Ontarians safe and healthy and stop the spread of this deadly virus,” she continued.
Due to the high number of cases, the provincial workforce will be assisting 12 public health units across Ontario, providing extensive supports to Windsor-Essex, Ottawa, Hamilton, Halton, Toronto, Waterloo, Peel, and York.
Additionally, public health units are beginning to use technology to reach cases and contacts faster so people can get into isolation as quickly as possible and limit the spread, including a new, secure “Virtual Assistant” tool.
The Virtual Assistant uses text messages to connect health care workers with individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been identified as close contacts through a secure online form—it also provides important information to individuals such as guidance on how to self-isolate.
The text messages link to safe and secure web-based forms with questions that help case managers assess symptoms and general health, and identify close contacts.
“Ontario’s public health system continues to take extraordinary efforts to contain COVID-19,” David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, said in the same release.
“Public health units have shown incredible commitment and dedication to protecting our health during this challenging time. We will continue to work closely with them and support the important services they provide to Ontarians,” he continued.