The government of British Columbia will hire 500 health professionals to conduct contact tracing around the province, it announced Wednesday.
This will involve following up with all British Columbians who have tested positive for COVID-19 to track who they may have been in contact with and then follow up with them.
"As we have seen in recent weeks, strong contact tracing is absolutely crucial when dealing with community outbreaks as we slowly and safely increase our contacts," said Minister of Health Adrian Dix.
"Our health-care workers have gone beyond the call of duty during the pandemic, and we are putting out this call to these dedicated professionals to bolster our contact tracing capacity and prepare us for a potential surge of COVID-19 in the fall."
The province said it anticipates the staff to be in place by September. The positions will be temporary and hired by each individual health region. Some of the new staff members will also be involved in public health, including education and flu immunizations.
"When there is a community outbreak, time is of the essence," said B.C.’s health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. "These new contact tracers will work with existing public health teams to help track down all those who may have been exposed and support people to self-isolate when necessary.
“This role becomes even more crucial to contain the spread as we continue to open up our schools, economy and social activities, and as we prepare for the upcoming cold and flu season this fall."
The province already has contact tracing in place for communicable disease in general, but the government said more health workers are needed to expand this service due to the COVID-19 pandemic.