New Tool Supports Close Contact Notification

November 12, 2020

CALGARY – Alberta Health Services (AHS) has launched an online portal to enable the automated notification of close contacts of COVID-19 cases by text message.

Effective today, Albertans who receive a positive COVID-19 result are asked to immediately visit www.ahs.ca/closecontacts and click on the COVID-19 Close Contact Tool, where they will enter information, including phone numbers, of known close contacts.

Once submitted and reviewed by the AHS contact tracing team with the positive case, a text message notification will be delivered to all close contacts whose phone numbers are provided.  The automated text message will inform close contacts of their exposure and instruct each contact to isolate immediately for 14 days. It will also provide a link to further information on isolation requirements, testing options, symptoms and supports available. The name of the positive case will not be disclosed in the text messages.

As announced on November 5, AHS will also continue to directly notify all close contacts of cases in health care workers, minors (parents will be notified if their child has been exposed in a school setting), and individuals who live or work within congregate or communal facilities. This notification may take place through phone or email.

School-related contacts will continue to receive email notification from AHS, and workplaces and organizers of events of 10 or more attendees will also still be required to notify the appropriate staff and attendees, respectively.

Close contacts are defined as anyone who was within two metres of a positive case of COVID-19 for 15 minutes or more of cumulative contact, without consistent and appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE). A close contact is ALSO someone who has had direct contact with bodily fluids of a person who has COVID-19 (e.g., was coughed or sneezed on), or who provided direct care for a person who has COVID-19, without consistent and appropriate use of PPE.

For sports that involve close, sustained or intermittent and repeated contact, all members of the teams playing each other are considered close contacts when there is a case on a team.

Efficient identification and notification of close contacts of COVID-19 remains critical to Alberta’s fight against COVID-19. Rapid notification of close contacts ensures that those exposed can isolate and get tested before potentially spreading disease to others.

In addition to this new online tool, AHS has also posted 425 new positions for hiring onto the contact tracing team. All positions can be viewed online at ahs.ca/contactracingjobs.

As AHS works to deploy innovative approaches and new staff, it remains critical that that all Albertans limit their social bubble, and follow all other public health guidance.

By limiting the number of close contacts we each have now, and stringently following all public health measures, we can each directly impact the days and weeks ahead.

We also continue to encourage Albertans to download the Alberta Trace Together app, which provides contact tracing teams with another source of information when working with Albertans to identify close contacts.

We appreciate the collaboration of all Albertans as we continue to fight COVID-19 together. Our contact tracers are Albertans too. Albertans helping Albertans. Thank you for respecting the efforts that our teams are making.

For more information, visit www.ahs.ca/covid.

Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.