Contact tracing is the practice of finding out from someone who has been diagnosed with an infectious illness, who they might have been in contact with recently. The people they’ve been in contact with are then notified that they may have been exposed to the disease. They are encouraged to get tested and take additional steps to prevent further spread of the infection. Contact tracing is one of the cornerstones of preventative health and has been used in a variety of settings – including HIV.
Contact tracing works best when the recently diagnosed individual is able to recount everyone they have been in contact with. For a sexually transmitted infection, an individual needs to recall everyone that they’ve recently had sexual contact with. However, with COVID-19 this includes anyone you’ve been within close proximity of for more than 15 minutes. This may include people you have stood behind at the supermarket or someone seated near you on public transport.