Healthcare Technology Featured Article

February 26, 2021

How Unknown Numbers Are Impacting Contact Tracing

Since the outbreak of the global pandemic last year, a range of measures have been brought in to try and control the spread of the infection. This includes a global vaccination drive to try and protect people against getting and spreading the virus and social distancing. Another measure that has been used since last year is contact tracing, which is also designed to limit the spread of infection.

With contact tracing, those who have been diagnosed with COVID can be contacted in order to find out who they have interacted with. Contact tracers are then able to contact those people to let them know they have been in contact with the virus so that necessary steps can be taken. However, one issue that often arises is that people do not answer their calls because they are from an unknown number. This then affects the number of hosts and exposed contact that tracers are able to get in touch with.

Negative Impact on the Contact Tracing Program

There is no doubt that unknown numbers do have a negative impact on the contact tracing program. As our infographic shows, less than 20 percent of American adults answer calls that are from an unknown number. This means that huge numbers of people could miss out on this vital call based on these statistics. The success of contact tracing is down to people responding to calls, and with more than 80 percent of Americans not answering unknown calls, this could be a huge issue.

Given the seriousness of this virus, it is essential to try and reduce the spread by whatever means possible. Limiting interactions between those who are infected or have been exposed and other people plays a big part in achieving this goal. However, if people are not answering their calls because of unknown numbers, it makes it far more difficult to do this. This means that many people who have unknowingly interacted with someone who has tested positive may not find out in time to limit their own socializing.

One thing to keep in mind is that contact tracers will make several attempts to contact each person they need to get in touch with. However, with the large number of Americans that do not answer unknown calls, all of these attempts may be futile. This means that the person who has COVID is not contacted and those who have been exposed to it may never find out. As such, they continue to interact with others, which then spreads the infection even more.

Checking on Unknown Callers

One of the things that can help to reduce this problem is for those receiving unknown calls to use reverse phone lookup tools. By doing this, they can identify who has been calling, and this then enables them to speak to the contact tracer to find out the situation.

Checking on unknown callers can reduce the number of missed calls from contact tracers, and more importantly, it can help to boost the effort to reduce the spread of COVID.

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