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Comparing manual contact tracing and digital contact advice

08/11/2020
by   Ramesh Raskar, et al.
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Manual contact tracing is a top-down solution that starts with contact tracers at the public health level, who identify the contacts of infected individuals, interview them to get additional context about the exposure, and also monitor their symptoms and support them until the incubation period is passed. On the other hand, digital contact tracing is a bottom-up solution that starts with citizens who on obtaining a notification about possible exposure to an infected individual may choose to ignore the notification, get tested to determine if they were actually exposed or self-isolate and monitor their symptoms over the next two weeks. Most experts recommend a combination of manual contact tracing and digital contact advice but they are not based on a scientific basis. For example, a possible hybrid solution could involve a smartphone based alert that requests the possible contact of an infected individual to call the Public Health (PH) number for next steps, or in some cases, suggest ways to self-assess in order to reduce the burden on PH so only most critical cases require a phone conversation. In this paper, we aim to compare the manual and digital approaches to contact tracing and provide suggestions for potential hybrid solutions.

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