Using the Test-Trace-Protect (TTP) strategy helps to quickly identify and inform contacts of persons who have tested positive for COVID-19. For this activity, however, a sufficient number of personnel is in need. Doris Behrens, Head of the Department for Economy and Health, provided mathematical modeling to support the pro-active Workforce Planning tool of the Gwent TTP service. This service achieved a success rate of more than 98 percent.

Contact Tracing is an effective way to limit the spread of infectious disease by breaking potential transmission links. Since the beginning of July 2020, the Test Trace Protect (TTP) strategy, has focused on testing people showing SARS-CoV-2 symptoms in Wales, UK, as soon as possible, to find those they had close contact with, inform about increased risk of infection, and to help protect family, friends, and the social environment by self-isolation. While so-called Contact Tracers collect all relevant data from contacts, contact advisors stay in contact with contacts for up to a fortnight until infection can be ruled out.

Workforce Planning as a winning formula

Being able to effectively implement the TTP strategy requires the exact amount of people equipped with the right qualifications at the right time. Since September 2020, Prof Doris Behrens, Head of the Department for Economy and Health at Danube University Krems, has been supporting the Gwent TTP Service's pro-active Workforce Planning tool by using mathematical modeling. The service, which has a success rate of over 98 percent is a collaboration of district representatives (from Caerphilly, Blaenau Gwent, Monmouthshire, Newport and Torfaen) and staff from the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board. The latter is responsible for all the health needs of nearly 650,000 residents in south Wales Gwent and parts of neighboring Powys.

Net reproduction figure lowered from 1.3 to 0.8

The Welsh Government has recently announced that Contact Tracing reduced the net reproduction figure from 1.7 to an estimated 1.3 in December 2020. This was followed by improved case detection and reduced testing and tracing times, leading to a further decline from around 1.3 to 0.8. The interplay with social distancing and the accelerating vaccination program has helped Contact Tracing to significantly curb the 7-day incidence in South Wales. In Blaenau Gwent, for example, new weekly infections per 100,000 population have fallen from over 900 (December 2020) to 1.4 (end of April 2021).

On 3 May 2021, the country "unlocked" again with pubs, fitness clubs and indoor swimming pools opening. Today, indoor gatherings of up to 15 adults are allowed, and Welsh people will again be able to go on international journeys as of 17 May 2021. The challenge now is to adapt the strategies that have been successful so far in order to counter the expected increase in new infections and the spread of VOCs (Variants of Concern), all supported by Contact Tracing.

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