During the visit, both Ministers met many of the contact tracers who have been working to help keep the public safe throughout the pandemic, as well as meeting with Aidan Dawson, Chief Executive of the PHA Andrew Dougal, Non-Executive Chair of the Board of the PHA and Dr Elizabeth Mitchell, Director of Contact Tracing.
Aidan Dawson, Chief Executive of the PHA, said: “The public can still play a big part in helping to stop the spread of the virus. In addition to getting the vaccine and following the public health guidelines, they can help by understanding the process if they test positive for COVID-19 – expect to be contacted by the CTC, recognise our number (028 9536 8888) and please answer when we do call, and make sure their close contacts are alerted as quickly as possible through digital self-trace, meaning they will isolate sooner and help to reduce any potential spread of the COVID-19.
“Contact tracing through phone calls from our trained contact tracing staff is still in place. We’re enhancing the service’s workforce every week, adding additional capacity to the operation. But the message to the public is to take advantage of the speed that digital self-trace can provide. It is quick and easy to enter the contact information of your close contacts who will then receive a text message straight away advising them to isolate and book a test. This simple action can quickly help to stop the spread of the virus.
“All of the staff involved in the CTS have been working incredibly hard for over a year now. This vital service has, and continues to, save lives. We are asking the public to work with us, to use digital self-trace, to answer if we call, to be honest about your contacts and where you have been and to get the vaccine as soon as you can. If we all do it, we can all get through it.”
A positive case of COVID-19 is sent a link to the Digital Self Trace website as well as a unique code by text to enable them to enter close contact contacts’ details without waiting for the PHA to be in touch. The contacts entered will then receive a text message straight away advising them to isolate and book a PCR test.
A step-by-step guide on how the system works can be found at www.pha.site/DigitalSelf-Trace
The CTS is currently still phoning positive cases, so if anyone is phoned by (028) 9536 8888 they are being asked to answer and speak to the contact tracing team. They will leave a voice message where they can.
The CTS is notified of all positive cases in Northern Ireland.
For further information on the virus, its symptoms and how and where to book a test, visit www.pha.site/coronavirus