Flemish contact tracers make fewer than two calls a day

Last week contact tracers working for the Flemish Care and Health Agency made an average of just 600 calls a days. This is only half the 1,200 calls per day that had been envisaged for staff at the call centre that is responsible for making contact tracing calls to people in the five Flemish provinces. This means that each person employed at the call centre made an average of fewer than two calls a day. The relatively light workload has a number of causes. For example, GPs don’t always enter date on coronavirus patients into the digital databank used by the centre. Furthermore, those that are in the database often can’t be contacted. The Flemish Health and care agency says that it realises that there is room for improvement. 

Contact tracers call those found to have become infected with the novel coronavirus in order to find out who they have been in contact with. Currently around 450 contact tracers are doing this work in Flanders. Originally the Care and Health agency had aimed to recruit 1,200 contact tracers. 

Nevertheless, the Agency’s Jan Moonens told VRT News that "The number varies from day to day but there are currently more than sufficient. We want to keep this group on for the time being as it is still unclear how the situation will evolve”.  

Mr Moonens went on to say that the system still has room for improvement. He added that an efficient flow of information from GPs is paramount to contact tracing working well.  

Another issue is the inability of contact tracers to be able to contact someone that has become infected. This can be due to an incomplete or incorrect telephone number having been entered into the system or because people aren’t answering their phones. 

Furthermore, those that can be contacted often admit to having had had surprising few contacts: an average of between 1 and 1.5. Mr Moonens says that the Agency needs to invest in training the contact tracers so they can learn techniques to help them gain the trust of those they call which in turn would make respondents more open about their contacts. 

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