Conservative Baroness Rawlings, a member of the House of Lords, is a former nurse and ex-chairman of King’s College London Council. She made the comments during a Lords session that was held online, Sky News reports.
Rawlings said that people should consider keeping “a daily diary of everyone they meet, wherever they go outside their home, so that should they fall ill with Covid-19 it would be a simple, easy way to trace the source for further testing.”
And Health Minister Lord Bethell has said that personal tracing would play a “powerful role” in helping isolate people with Covid-19.
The importance of contact tracing has been repeatedly asserted throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that systematic application of contact tracing would “break the chains of transmission of an infectious disease,” and calls it an “essential public health tool” for controlling outbreaks.
It has published a document providing guidance on how to put in place contact tracing capacity for the control of Covid-19 specifically.
Baroness Rawlings’ suggestion is a non-technological one, whereas many countries are making use of apps and surveillance technology to carry out contact tracing on national scales.
The NHS is currently trialling its own NHS Covid-19 contact tracing app.
It will work by using Bluetooth to figure out how close it is to other people who also have the app installed, and keep a record of this on the device.
If an app user declares that they have symptoms of Covid-19, the app will then send the data from the past 28 days to a central server, according to New Statesman.
Then, people who have come into close proximity with this user will be alerted.
Germany is also expected to introduce a contact tracing app, but it will work slightly differently to Britain’s one.
This is because it will only trigger alerts if the user tests positive for Covid-19, whereas the NHS Covid-19 app relies on users having to self-diagnose using a questionnaire, the BBC reports.
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Digital contact tracing can take place in two main ways: centralised or decentralised
Decentralised tracing restricts the contact tracing process to, say, mobile phones, which would only communicate with each other and tends to favour anonymity of the user.
Centralised tracing, meanwhile, takes the process to remote computer. But this has concerned privacy groups.
BBC news technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones has said that the NHS’ method of allowing users to declare their own symptoms “could make the app fast and effective.”
But it could also mean that “users become exasperated by a blizzard of false alarms.”
Meanwhile, Sky News also reports that Lord Bethell also praised the “courage and bravery” of frontline NHS staff from black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) backgrounds, and said “we owe them a huge debt.”
His comments come amid reports that there is “disproportionate mortality and morbidity” amongst the black, Asian and ethnic minority population, the NHS said.
The NHS has published a note to its BAME staff, in which it said: “It is critical that we understand which groups are most at risk so we can take concerted action against them.”
The NHS said it would improve risk assessments that would “specifically consider the physical and mental health of BAME staff.”
Many other measures were also included in the note, including the creation of a “bespoke health and wellbeing offer (including rehabilitation and recovery) in addition to the range of resources already available.”
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