Stakeholders perspective of, and experience with contact tracing for COVID-19 in Ghana: A qualitative study among contact tracers, supervisors, and contacts

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PLoS One
Background: Ghana confirmed the first two cases of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS CoV-2) infection on 12th March 2020. Following this, the government introduced routine and enhanced contact tracing to identify, quarantine, and test contacts for COVID-19. This study, therefore, intends to document the experiences of contact tracers, their supervisors, during COVID-19 containment in Ghana. Methods: Purposive sampling was used to select twenty-seven (27) participants; sixteen contact tracers, six supervisors, and five contacts of COVID-19 cases for an in-depth interview using a topic guide. These interviews were conducted on a phone or face-to-face basis whilst maintaining physical distancing protocol. All these were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Then, QSR NVivo 12 was used to analyse the data thematically. Results: Contact tracers were selected based on their professional background and surveillance experience with other infectious diseases. They were trained before the first confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country and before deployment. Deployment of contact tracers was in pairs to monitor contacts daily through physical visits or over the phone. Their activities included educating contacts about the condition, filling the symptoms diary, and providing psychological support. Contacts for COVID-19 were identified through case investigation, and their monitoring is done once a day despite the twice-daily requirement. Wherever a case was confirmed, enhanced contact tracing within a 2km radius was done. Furthermore, it was reported that some contacts were not adhering to the self-quarantine. In addition to this, other challenges included; unstable provision of PPEs and remuneration, refusal of some contact to test, delays in receiving test results, and poor coordination of the whole process. Conclusions: The study concludes that contact tracing was generally perceived to be helpful in COVID-19 containment in Ghana. However, adhering to self-quarantine protocol had many challenges for both contact tracers and the contacts. Improving coordination and quick release of test results to contacts is necessary for COVID-19 containment. Lastly, the supply of Personal Protection Equipment and motivation needs to be addressed to help position the country well for effective contact tracing.
Charles Lwanga Noora, Kwabena Opoku-Mensah, Emmanuel Asampong, WACCBIP, COVID-19, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, Coronavirus
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0247038