I’ve heard a lot of people talking about contact tracing. What is it, why is it so important, and does this work?

Testing and Contact Tracing

A: In sum, contact tracing helps us identify people who have been in close contact with a person infected with the virus by 1) Identifying the contacts; 2) Listing the contacts and recommending self-isolation or quarantine; and 3) Following up with contacts to assess for symptoms of illness. This is critical because it helps limit the number of people exposed to the virus. This recent article in the Atlantic sums up the methods used in China, South Korea, and Singapore for contact tracing. In sum, contact tracing works but presents significant concerns over privacy violations just as quickly as it helps us determine who could be infected. 

The upshot? Tech experts are working fast to develop methods that use common technologies such as bluetooth “chirps” to track down people who have potentially interacted with an infected individual, including in public spaces. MIT is working on one such technology!

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