A day in a life of a ‘detective’ tracking down cases of COVID-19

One of our top detectives working around-the-clock to investigate positive cases of COVID-19 in South East Sydney is Nurse Unit Manager Tracey Papa.

Tracey looks after teams of healthcare professionals managing COVID-19 in South Eastern Sydney Local Health District's Public Health Unit.

The unit work with every single COVID-19 positive patient in the area to identify everyone that they have been in close contact with while potentially infectious – typically 48 hours prior to the onset of their symptoms.

Their unique role involves a meticulous process called contact tracing, to carefully identify the close contacts of those who have contracted the virus. 

“Once we get a positive result we swing into action. We’re super speedy – it’s vital that the tracing is done straight away,” Ms Papa said.

“We go through each person’s day-to-day movements and find out who they’ve seen and where they’ve been. It really is just like being a detective!” 

The team provides advice on how to self-quarantine at home and the importance of monitoring for symptoms – but they're also a friendly voice on the other end of the phone, providing support and counselling where needed.

“Being told you’re positive can be quite a shock for people – it’s not always easy to hear. People are usually very appreciate of our guidance though.”
Tracey’s team of five – who specialise in infectious diseases – has increased to 45 to manage the COVID-19 response.

“We’re putting in very long days but it is worth it,” Ms Papa said.

Photo by Christian Gilles, The Daily Telegraph

Tracey Papa standing outside Prince of Wales Hospital