Contact tracing in the context of COVID-19: a case study from Oman – Oman

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  1. Abdullah Al-Manji 1,

  2. http://orcid.org/0000-0001-7603-1549Mohamed Tahoun 2,

  3. Franck Chi Amabo 2,

  4. Mohamed Alabri 3,

  5. Lamia Mahmoud 3,

  6. Badar Al Abri 3,

  7. http://orcid.org/0000-0002-8245-6591Ahmed Taha Aboushady 2,

  8. John Jabbour 3,

  9. http://orcid.org/0000-0002-1567-6252Pierre Nabeth 2,

  10. Mahmoud Sadek 2

  11. Correspondence to Dr. Mahmoud Sadek; sadekm@who.int

Summary

In April 2020, the Ministry of Health (MoH) of Oman, a high-income country in the Eastern Mediterranean (EMR) region, implemented a robust contact tracing (CT) system for COVID- 19. To capitalize on the Oman experience, EMRO developed a case study showcasing the methodology used to conduct CT activities, the main functions of the system, the challenges faced, lessons learned and the way forward. To develop the case study, a key informant interview was conducted virtually with the Ministry of Health CT focal point, using a semi-structured questionnaire adapted from the WHO questionnaire for the evaluation of CT activities. Oman’s Ministry of Health has launched a CT system based on three complementary digital tools: Tarassud plus, Medical Scout and HMushrif apps. Oman’s CT strategy categorizes contacts into close and casual contacts. Only close contacts are listed through the Tarassud plus app, while casual contacts are asked to self-monitor for 14 days through the other two apps. As the outbreak evolved, the Oman Ministry of Health implemented stricter policies and prioritized close contact tracing to keep CT activity manageable. Community health workers and volunteers facilitated CT activities by sensitizing the local community about the monitoring process and reducing the stigma associated with COVID-19. The challenges encountered revolved around the management of contact data, given the offline inoperability of apps and the lack of national risk communication guidelines to address community concerns and widespread rumours.

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