Contact tracing in NSW

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT John Thompson (author), LSIS Shane Cameron (photographer)

Topic(s): Operation COVID-19 ASSIST

Medical Administrative Officer, Lieutenant Bianca Prain, centre, with the COVID-19 contact tracing team she manages at the NSW Health public health response branch in Sydney. (photo: LSIS Shane Cameron)
Medical Administrative Officer, Lieutenant Bianca Prain, centre, with the COVID-19 contact tracing team she manages at the NSW Health public health response branch in Sydney.

More than 60 Army and Navy personnel have been working with the New South Wales Health Contact Tracing team as part of Operation COVID-19 ASSIST.

The team is responsible for contacting positive COVID-19 cases and their close contacts tell them to get tested and isolate for 14 days.

The first rotation of 52 personnel made close to 6000 calls within a couple of days in March and the current rotation of 12 Navy medical personnel have so far made 1500 calls.

Team leader Lieutenant Bianca Prain said this had been one of the most rewarding operations she had been a part of.

“I have enjoyed working with the team. They value our opinion and sought our input when the original contact tracing team was put together,” Lieutenant Prain said.

“It’s incredible to see the difference contact tracers are making - the work is playing a significant role in the state government’s efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“Without the contact tracing - the detective work - you can swab as many as people as you want but it’s not going to help stop the spread.”

Lieutenant Prain said they had to get onto positive cases and their contacts quickly.

“If their contacts end up also testing positive, they’ve already been in isolation and haven’t been able to spread the virus,” Lieutenant Prain said.

The state’s Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant, said the ADF played an important role.

“They’ve integrated seamlessly with our people and have been responding to rapidly evolving situations. I can’t speak highly enough of their work and contribution,” Dr Chant said.

Commander of Task Force 629.1 Brigadier Mick Garraway said he was proud of the work the contact tracers have done.

“This team has punched above its weight. They have made a big impact on the entire contact tracing effort,” Brigadier Garraway said.

Royal Australian Navy Medics Able Seaman Medic Kimberley McHugh assists NSW Health by conducting isolation welfare and location checks at the COVID-19 public health response branch in Sydney.

Royal Australian Navy Medics Able Seaman Medic Kimberley McHugh assists NSW Health by conducting isolation welfare and location checks at the COVID-19 public health response branch in Sydney.