Hamilton Public Health Services have new tool in battle against COVID-19

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Published February 16, 2021 at 2:45 pm

Hamilton’s Public Health Services (PHS) have launched a new tool that will increase the capacity and speed for COVID-19 contact tracing and case management in the city.

On Tuesday (Feb. 16), the City of Hamilton announced the launch of Virtual Assistant (VA), an internet and text messaging tool that will support the local response to the pandemic.

“Residents recently tested for COVID-19 or close contacts of someone identified as positive may receive a text message from Hamilton Public Health Services with a secure link to complete a personal assessment form,” a press release said.

“The text will allow the resident to click on a secure link to a form to provide information about health status, close contacts and other important information.”

The form is voluntary, according to the release, and individuals can opt out of sharing information.

The VA is expected to help contact tracers identify possible contacts of confirmed cases and get in touch with them quickly.

“By providing information using the online form before a call from Public Health, the investigator or contact tracer can review the information ahead of time and use the call to confirm and verify the information provided,” the release said.

A more streamlined approach to contact tracing and case management comes at a time when more contagious variants of COVID-19 have been found in parts of Ontario.

The threat of COVID variants has many public health officials concerned about the possibility of a third wave of the pandemic.

Considering the speed with which the new variants spread, contact tracing will play an even more prominent role in containing the spread of the virus in the weeks and months ahead.

The VA is accessed on mobile devices and is iOS and Android compatible and is part of the Province’s case and contact management system.

The online form, which is expected to take 10 minutes to complete, will function if the link is used in a browser on a desktop or laptop computer but it was created for a mobile experience.

All information, the release said, will remain confidential.

For more information on the City of Hamilton’s response to the pandemic, visit its website.

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