A spokesman for the state of Schleswig-Holstein, which has a population of 2.9 million, said his contact trackers were working full-time for the 15 health officials in the state's cities and districts. Health officials also track "all contacts" of people confirmed to be carriers of the virus, and "are also responsible for checking quarantined / confined people to ensure compliance and to check their health status," he said. the spokesperson. said.
Contact tracking remained central to Germany's strategy to tackle COVID-19. Even when the country was preparing to enter confinement, it moved quickly to increase capacity. A spokesman for the state of Baden-Württemberg shared data showing that the region had 549 contact markers on March 1. By May 7, that number had risen to 3,036.
On the other hand, the UK has moved away from contact tracking and has focused its tests on only the sickest. As of mid-March, Public Health England's contact tracking response team was made up of just under 300 employees, who had tracked a total of 3,500 people.
After protests over the lack of available tests, the UK government passed april in a race to increase its testing capacity, reaching adequate capacity only at the end of the month. Now, something similar seems to be happening with contact tracking.
A spokesman for the UK Department of Health and Welfare said: “We are making very rapid progress in recruiting thousands of contact trackers. Recruitment has started and we are confident that we will have hired 18,000 in mid-May. "
Considering the UK population, this number translates to approximately five contact trackers for every 18,000 people. However, while the German numbers are real, Britain's number is a target. The health department spokesman declined to say how many people have been recruited so far and declined to provide details on how these recruits will be spread across the country and distributed among centralized call centers and local officials.
Some 15,000 of the people recruited will be "call handlers" and 3,000 will be "health workers", but the government has not provided further details on what these jobs will look like and where they will be located. The government also refused to provide the kind of data that German authorities shared with BuzzFeed News.
Germany has been releasing these details since mid-March, around the time the United Kingdom revoked its contact tracking operation. Local media reported that the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Germany's public health institute, received 11,000 requests from "containment researchers" to support contact tracking efforts. RKI told BuzzFeed News that 362 containment scouts have been deployed in Germany's 16 states so far and about 130 others are being trained and recruited from the candidate group. Containment scouts operate alongside contact trackers in some 400 local health officials across the country.