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Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

SocietyMarch 8, 2022

Tested positive? Here’s why it’s so important to complete your Covid tracing form

Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

When you test positive the Ministry of Health should text you a contact tracing form. A Covid-19 case investigator explains why it’s vital that you fill it out.

Last week, a total of 55,203 new cases of Covid-19 were reported. That’s more than half of all reported cases since the pandemic began – in just seven days.

The huge number of cases now being reported means the Ministry of Health is unable to manage Covid-19 like it used to. When we moved to phase three it was is a recognition that the government no longer has the capacity to monitor every case as it did in the earlier stages of the pandemic.

Back in the days of delta every case got a long interview for contact tracing, along with daily follow-up calls. Now, case-calling resources are being conserved to focus on those most in need of support. This is where you, a technologically enabled person, have a role to play.

When you test positive, you will likely get a text that asks you to fill out a quick contact tracing form.

A selection of the screens you’ll see when completing your Covid tracing form

If you don’t get this text within 24 hours of uploading your RAT result to My Covid Record, call Healthline ASAP (0800 358 5453).

You need to complete the form even if you’ve been isolating since before you tested positive. The form is about welfare needs just as much as it is about contact tracing. 

The self-service form covers three main topics:

  • Details about your Covid-19 symptoms and medical vulnerability
  • Details about your isolation circumstances
  • Any potential high-risk exposures

Under phase three, contact tracing is focused on high-risk exposures – exposures that took place in locations that have a high risk of transmission and the potential to infect vulnerable populations like the elderly.

Also, despite the high case numbers, it appears the Ministry of Health is still trying to keep tabs on every case, and make sure they have the support they need.

If you’ve tested positive and haven’t answered the form, you’re wasting resources that could be focused on helping those actually in need of assistance.

Even if you don’t have a clinical or welfare need, the Ministry of Health wants to know you’re OK. If you leave the form unanswered, they worry you’re potentially at high risk, so they will try to reach you by phone. This places a significant burden on the team of case investigators, who are there to ensure no one slips through the cracks. If you contribute to their burden by not answering the form you make their job harder and you increase the chances that someone who’s at real risk will not get the support they need.

Left incomplete, your case record will get bounced around the National Contact Tracing Solution for a couple of days, until it lands in the lap of a case investigator who is tasked with calling you. Then they call, just to find out you’re fine and have no need for assistance. All the while, a struggling single mum somewhere in Aotearoa – or another vulnerable person who doesn’t have time to fill out the form or read about the supports available – waits days for a call while her family’s needs go unnoticed (If you have a Covid-19 welfare need, call 0800 512 337).

On the other hand, if you act quickly and fill out the form, you’re helping the entire country manage Covid-19 better. You take pressure off the phone lines, and let the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Social Development focus on all the people who are doing it tough during isolation.

If you haven’t received the text and it’s been 24 hours since you tested positive, notify Healthline. There are glitches in the system as it’s relatively new, but you can do your part by acting proactively. 

If you don’t get a text, don’t panic. There are several reasons an error could have happened. Whatever the issue is, Healthline can help.

If adopted widely, the form can help make sure those with underlying conditions or severe symptoms are given more regular checkups, and those with welfare needs are referred to the correct places. This can reduce the unnecessary suffering some people and families experience while isolating. It can also potentially save lives, by ensuring that those most vulnerable are getting the care and attention they need.

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