Press Release: Home visits to those who tested positive for COVID-19 – First contact counselling and tracing

Press Release

For immediate release

26 June 2020

Home visits to those who tested positive for COVID-19 – First contact counselling and tracing

As previously explained, the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) are frontline officers and critical role-players in fighting the spread of COVID-19 in the Garden Route District.  Statistics on the total number of tests undertaken, new positive cases identified and total recoveries are daily being reported by the Outbreak Response team (provincial & private hospitals) to the GRDM Municipal Health Services in the district. To act rapidly, a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) was developed by the different local Outbreak Response teams in collaboration with the GRDM EHPs.

In other words, when a person tested positive for the Coronavirus, the EHPs in the district and officials from the Western Cape Department of Health makes contact with that person and in most cases, are able to trace those who have been in close contact with the infected person. The following procedures are what individuals can expect when an EHP of the GRDM visits their home.

After receiving a notification from the Provincial National Institute of Communicable Disease (NICD ) regarding a COVID-19 positive case, the EHP must verify the information and particulars of the patient before commencing with the interview.  It is of utmost importance  that the officials wear the correct PPEs, including the N95 mask and the relevant glasses during the home visit.

Both parties need to adhere to and maintain the social distancing protocol.  The patient must be addressed outside his house or in an open area. Officials must also be discreet in their approach and conversation, not to alert the surrounding neighbours.

At the moment of arrival, the EHP must identify him/herself and explain the purpose of the visit. During the interview, the patient has to wear a mask or a mask must be supplied should the affected person not have one. The conversation starts with the first contact counselling procedure (including giving him/her results /informing him or her about the disease and precautionary measures to take to stop the spread).

The first contact counselling and tracing are done by determining the contact a patient has with close and casual contacts (household and work contacts).  It is imperative that counselling is given to all occupants of the affected household. The suitability of the COVID-19 positive tested person’s home for isolation purposes is also determined at this time.

The importance of self-isolation and adherence to the prescribed 14 days isolation period must be emphasised during the visit. In conclusion, the patient may request to be provided with a letter to confirm the last day of isolation from the Western Cape Government Department of Health or a local GP.