This is how contact research works: look for possible corona infections yourself

Now that many people are getting themselves tested for corona, the pressure is increasing at GGD test sites. But not only there. Because more tests are also positive, the work pressure for source and contact researchers of the GGD is increasing.

Their work is one of the most important tools against the spread of corona: to identify the source of an infection and to find out who may have infected whom. A great deal of investment is being made in this search.

How does source and contact research actually work? Step into the shoes of a contact researcher and look for possible infections. Attention: time is ticking – and turn on your sound:

Source and contact research is all about the timeline, according to GGD contact researchers. The infection picture must be determined as quickly as possible. From two days before the first complaints, the corridors of an infected person are checked.

“We ask people about their family, friends, nightlife, gym, work and how they travel”, says a contact researcher from the Gelderland South Municipal Health Service. In order to get a good picture of this, it sometimes takes as much as 8 to 12 hours, says a colleague. On average, people have more contacts than in March or April. At the beginning of the lockdown, people still had two or three contacts, but in some cases this has even risen to a hundred.


Not only do conversations take longer, they have also become more difficult. People are less willing to cooperate, contact researchers stand out. “You depend on whether a patient wants to cooperate. If someone has attended a party, they wont share it with you easily,” says a contact researcher from GGD Noord- en Oost-Gelderland.

“But at the end of the day, were here to prevent an outbreak,” adds her colleague. “We are therefore trying to explain to people that they are the most important link in preventing that. So we ask them why they dont want to cooperate and explain to them whats at stake”

Working pressure

The GGD distinguishes roommates, close contacts and other contacts. Roommates and close contacts are called several times. Roommates three times: the first time to tell them that they were in contact with someone with corona and whether they therefore want to stay at home for ten days, the subsequent times to ask how things are going and compliance with the corona measures. Close contacts are called twice. In this way, the number of calls can quickly increase.

And with a growing number of corona infections, the work pressure on contact researchers is also increasing. The GGD must have started the contact examination within 24 hours after they have been notified of a positive test. Such an initial interview can take up to an hour. In one day, a GGD staff member can have up to dozens of contact conversations. “Theres a lot of time pressure if you know that another 10 to 40 people need to be called for the next day,” says one of the contact researchers.