blank
Connect with us

Coronavirus

A Day in the Life of a Covid Contact Tracer

Published

on

Two women explain life on the ‘virtual front line’ in the war against coronavirus in Swansea Bay

Joanna Evans likes to run along Swansea Beach early in the morning, taking in the sea air and settling her mind before a hard day’s work while her colleague Shakira Walilay prefers a country walk near her Swansea Valley home to prepare for her shift.

They are both contact tracers with the joint NPT Council, Swansea Bay University Health Board and Welsh Government Test Trace Protect (TTP) Covid-19 service for the region.

Shakira, also a college student, was a call centre worker for firms like Virgin Atlantic and TUI then became a delivery driver before signing up in January 2021 to join the TTP service – part of the ‘virtual front line’ in the ongoing battle in Swansea Bay against Covid-19.

Shakira, who works from home equipped with headset and laptop said: “Any two calls I make are never the same. Some people are going through a lot due to Covid, some are really quite ill and others have lost loved ones – it definitely hits at the heartstrings when you’re listening to this. But the good thing about this job is we are there to help, to point people in the direction of help…help they are often in serious need of.

“Yes, we do a bit of detective work in asking where they think they may have been infected and who they may have come into contact with – people can be secretive but I definitely don’t ‘interrogate’ anyone – you can learn a lot from pieces of information, about where they work and where they have been, information which can help them and others and stop the spread of the disease throughout the community.”

Advertisement
Advertisement

As well as going for a walk to get ready for work, Shakira likes to go for another country walk – after work.

She said: “I don’t look at a screen, not even my phone – for at least an hour and go for some exercise and fresh air. It helps clear your mind and gives you time to deal with some of the people you’ve spoken to and the stories and difficult circumstances you’ve heard that day. Like I said, they’re always different.

“I get plenty of help and calls from colleagues if I’ve had a particularly stressful day and there is wellbeing support in place. We’ve also had events like (virtual) quiz nights to help build team spirit. The TTP service is evolving as we go along and as I’m talking to people from Neath Port Talbot where I live it makes TTP here a local service – not like the ones operating in England which are privately run.

“The vast majority of people I speak to are fine but I’ve been shouted at, even screamed at. But we are here to help. I spoke to someone who said they thought the pandemic was all over until they suddenly lost their sense of taste and smell. It’s not over.”

Advertisement
Advertisement

Joanna Evans, a registered nurse with 25 years experience, is seconded to the TTP service from her role as an Operating Theatre Sister at Singleton Hospital.

She said: “I was advised to shield last year and I was told I could not have patient contact – I felt that joining the TTP team would give me back a purpose…it was a very steep learning curve after working face to face with people every day to sitting in front of a laptop – let’s say it was a very different environment. Contact Tracing is a public health protection service provided 365 days a year. Last year I worked on Christmas day and people were still willing to engage with us.

 “I work from 8.15am to 5.15pm every day (though I sometimes work on as you cannot just shut your laptop when in the middle of something). I’m an early riser…I like to get out early when it’s quiet and before logging on at 8.15am I go for a run on Swansea Beach near my home to get in some exercise and fresh air before starting my day’s work.

“After I log on and get details of positive cases from the NHS database, we have a virtual meeting on Microsoft Teams to discuss the day’s workload, try to work out if any clusters are developing….then I just get on with it. Ensuring confidentiality (and data privacy) using empathetic interviewing techniques I gain information about those individuals our cases (positive) have come into contact with while infectious. I provide advice and guidance on isolation, symptom development and transmission of the virus to the public and assess their ability to safely isolate.

Advertisement

“Collaborating with other Health Professionals and approved organisations I signpost individuals to where they can receive further help and support if needed. This is part of the “Protect” element of the service that is sometimes overlooked. I have even had to get urgent medical help to people – including the ambulance service!

“There are occasions when I contact people who have tested positive that, for whatever reason, they have not been told earlier and I’m telling them for the first time. This is where my nurse training comes in. Perhaps for some this news will be expected but for others it can be very traumatic – I do all I can to advise and reassure them. The TTP service here is an eclectic mix – people in it are from all sorts of backgrounds, like nursing such as myself, the police, the council – they all bring elements from their previous roles that I think have helped to improve and develop the service.

“Most of the people I’ve contacted in Neath Port Talbot have been lovely and I’d like to thank them for their help.”

Advertisement
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Coronavirus

Face coverings retained in health and social care settings

Published

on

By

First Minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed the legal requirement to wear a face covering in health and care settings will remain in place.

Speaking after the latest three-week review of the coronavirus regulations, the First Minister said the public health situation was improving following the recent spike in cases caused by the BA.2 sub-type of omicron.

Advertisement

But Covid case rates remain high so maintaining the use of face coverings in health and care settings will help to protect to some of the most vulnerable people in society, staff and visitors.

The First Minister also urged everyone to continue to take measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus by following a set of simple steps to protect one another and keep Wales safe.

These include self-isolating if ill or testing positive for Covid-19; wearing a face covering in crowded indoor places, meeting outdoors wherever possible; keeping indoor areas well ventilated and washing hands regularly.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “The pandemic isn’t over but we are seeing encouraging signs the recent high levels of infections across Wales are falling.

“There are steps we can all take to protect ourselves while coronavirus is still circulating and reduce the spread of the virus even further. This is particularly true in places where some of the most vulnerable people in society are being treated and live, which is why we will retain the legal requirement to wear face coverings in health and social care settings.

Advertisement

“More generally, ensuring you are up-to-date with your Covid vaccinations and spring booster – if you are eligible – is really important. If you have Covid symptoms or test positive, please stay at home and help break the chain of transmission.

“Together, we can carry on keeping each other safe and keeping Wales safe.”

The next three-weekly review of coronavirus regulations will be carried out by 26 May.

Continue Reading

Coronavirus

Schools’ Covid guidance aligned to businesses and other workplaces

Published

on

By

The Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles, has announced that Covid-19 measures for schools in Wales will be brought into line with guidance for businesses and other organisations.

The Welsh Government has written to schools in Wales this morning to inform them of the changes.

Advertisement

Since September last year, schools have applied measures to stop the spread of Coronavirus according to local circumstances, based on the Local Covid-19 infection control decision framework for schools. Schools will no longer be advised to use the framework.

The change is in line with the Welsh Government’s long-term Covid-19 transition from pandemic to endemic. The risk from coronavirus is now considered in the same context as other communicable diseases, such as flu.

The First Minister has announced that the remaining coronavirus restrictions will be removed from 9 May, if the public health situation remained stable. The changes to the guidance for schools will also come into effect from 9 May.

Schools and other education settings will continue to be advised to work with local authorities and public health advisors to ensure that measures remain appropriate and proportionate and reflect local risks and circumstances.

A checklist will be provided to support schools and settings in considering which control measures remain proportionate. Special schools will continue to follow the advice for children and young people with higher clinical risk and clinically extremely vulnerable adults.

Advertisement

Speaking at the Welsh Government’s weekly press briefing, Jeremy Miles said: “In line with the wider public health guidance published at the last three-week review, we have today written to headteachers to signpost the impending changes to our advice for schools, which reflect the move from pandemic to endemic. This will ensure school guidance is more closely aligned with the rest of society.

“We all know that Covid-19 has not gone way. It remains vitally important we reduce the spread of the virus where we can – this includes, for example, following self-isolation guidance, and for education settings to continue to undertake robust risk assessments.”

Continue Reading

Coronavirus

Health board extends shuttle bus between Llanelli and COVID vaccination centre

Published

on

By

Hywel Dda University Health Board (HDUHB) has extended the free shuttle bus service between Llanelli town centre and the mass vaccination centre in Dafen to help people access their COVID-19 vaccination as easily as possible.

The shuttle bus, provided by Dolen Teifi, will continue to run between 10.30am to 4.40pm, seven days a week – with no service at 12.00pm from town or at 12.15pm from the mass vaccination centre to allow the drivers a lunch break.

Advertisement

People can board the shuttle bus on the hour and at half-past the hour at Church Street, outside Llanelli Magistrates Court.

The shuttle bus will leave the mass vaccination centre quarter past and quarter to the hour, returning to the town centre and dropping passengers off opposite Llanelli library.

Bethan Lewis, Interim Assistant Director of Public Health for Hywel Dda UHB, said: “We need as many people as possible attending their COVID-19 vaccine appointments, or dropping in if eligible.

“This shuttle bus service is one of many additional resources and services being put in place across the Hywel Dda region to help support more people to receive their COVID-19 vaccination. I am pleased the shuttle bus service has been extended to help people reliant on public transport to access their COVID-19 vaccine.”

On 21 February 2022, the JCVI published a statement, recommending an additional spring booster.

Advertisement

Strict COVID-19 safety measures are in place to ensure the safety of drivers and passengers on this service, including wearing face coverings unless medically exempt.

A maximum of 14 passengers are allowed per journey with a screen in place between driver and passengers.

The health board say that passengers should only use this service if they are fit and well on the day.

They add that before travelling without an appointment to Dafen mass vaccination centre, people should check the health board’s website for up-to-date information such as vaccine eligibility and drop-in opening times.

(Lead image: Hywel Dda NHS)

Advertisement
Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending

Copyright © 2021 Swansea Bay News