New tech helps track mystery COVID-19 cases


Tuesday, 08 December, 2020


New tech helps track mystery COVID-19 cases

Victorian epidemiologists and public health data experts have developed a coronavirus Mystery Case Tracker, which could save hours of time in contact tracing investigations.

The Mystery Case Tracker supports epidemiologists in their investigations into cases of coronavirus with an unknown source of acquisition, colloquially known as ‘mystery cases’. The Tracker could also be used to help with tracking other infectious diseases.

“Staying one step ahead of this incredibly infectious virus means continuing to advance our case and contact tracing systems, to keep our community safe,” said Martin Foley, Minister for Health.

The Mystery Case Tracker has been used to investigate mystery cases since September, and will be used in future cases to help Victoria’s health experts fight against the coronavirus and keep Victorian businesses open.

The Tracker is ‘fed’ contact tracing data and generates a digital diagram that maps the links between cases and contacts, and their movements. The tool will enable the expert contact tracers to process data and links from different sources into a user-friendly and quicker set of connections that will help detect and trace outbreaks and contacts faster, thereby stopping outbreaks in their tracks.

“Finding the link between people, places and times is the key to outbreak investigation and management — the team have done an amazing job to build this new tool that allows these investigations to be done quickly and robustly,” Foley said.

The Mystery Tracker will continue to evolve with new elements being introduced, such as an expanded location identification capability and automated alerts about potential new outbreaks. Victoria will also share the Mystery Case Tracker with other interested states.

“We’ve all got a part to play to protect ourselves and those we love from this virus — whether it’s the public health team who are working around the clock, cases providing accurate information to help them do their work or every Victorian who is staying at home and getting testing when they’re sick — we thank you,” Foley said.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Skyelar

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