Determining the acceptability of testing contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases to improve secondary case ascertainment

E. Marchant, D. Ready, G. Wimbury, R. Smithson, A. Charlett, I. Oliver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

BACKGROUND: UK asymptomatic contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases are not routinely tested for SARS-CoV-2. Testing contacts may improve case ascertainment and reduce onward transmission. This study investigated the acceptability of SARS-CoV-2 testing among contacts of confirmed cases as an integral part of the contact-tracing process. 

METHODS: A cross-sectional descriptive survey of case contacts was conducted in the UK. All contacts who completed a telephone call with the NHS Test and Trace Agile Lighthouse team were eligible for inclusion and were offered a molecular test. Consenting participants were sent a self-swab kit. 

RESULTS: Of the 1523 individuals contacted, 602 (39.5%) accepted the test offer. Of the 240 (39.9%) samples returned for testing, 16.3% tested polymerase chain reaction-positive for SARS-CoV-2.Most individuals who declined with a reason (638/905; 70.5%) reported they had already taken or booked a SARS-CoV-2 test, or were part of a testing programme. Matched laboratory records confirmed 73.1% of those who declined were tested by another route. 

CONCLUSIONS: Most case contacts were tested, either through arranging a test by themselves or by accepting the study offer. Results demonstrate high acceptability, with substantial test positivity, indicating that there is public health benefit in offering tests to contacts as a routine part of the contact-tracing process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e446-e452
JournalJournal of Public Health
Volume43
Issue number3
Early online date30 Mar 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: This work was funded by Public Health England.

Open Access: This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/),
which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Publisher Copyright: © The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Faculty of Public Health.

Citation: E Marchant, D Ready, G Wimbury, R Smithson, A Charlett, I Oliver, Determining the acceptability of testing contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases to improve secondary case ascertainment, Journal of Public Health, Volume 43, Issue 3, September 2021, Pages e446–e452,

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/pubmed/fdab079

Keywords

  • behaviour
  • communicable diseases
  • health protection

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