Countries that have lifted their lockdowns are now reporting another wave of COVID-19 infections. Even though medical experts rallied against it, governments opted to reopen their economies to make up for losses. Thus, healthcare systems are once again bracing for another alarming upsurge of cases. Given the situation, those who are willing to extend a helping hand can now take an online course for contact tracing. This initiative was developed by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

According to the university, adapting to the safety guidelines issued by experts, this five-hour remote class teaches participants the basics on how to become a contact tracer. For those who are unaware of what is involved, this is a process wherein individuals who might have been exposed to those with COVID-19 are identified. What follows is to isolate these people for a specified period to prevent transmission. Some might not develop any symptoms, while others will likely need medical assistance.

At the start of the outbreak, contact tracing has been a key factor for public health officials to manage infections. Until an effective treatment and vaccine has been developed and distributed, controlling the spread of COVID-19 is the only available option available, reports ABC News. Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Health program director Dr. Kelly Henning stated that "contact tracing breaks the chain of transmission of the virus."

She then added that "When a contact is unaware that they've been in touch with someone, or been close to someone who was a case, they go about their usual business and they infect people all along the way." Meanwhile, it is crucial for contact tracers to act quickly and inform all those who are potentially infected. What follows is more difficult as it involves convincing these people to self-isolate for 14 days.

International Nurses Day in Wuhan
Nurses recite an oath on International Nurses Day at Tongji Hospital in Wuhan, China, where authorities have ordered the entire population be tested for the coronavirus. Photo: AFP / STR

In a related development, New York governor Andrew Cuomo made an announcement last month. The state hopes to hire an estimated 30 contact tracers for every 100,000 people and even more for areas identified as COVID-19 hotspots. Bloomberg Philanthropies has purportedly allocated $10.5 million for the aforementioned online course. It will be free and accessible to everyone with an online exam at the end.