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April 1, 2020

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Med volunteers help CDC fight coronavirus

FORTY-Four medical students and a teacher have been recruited to help with the epidemiological survey of potential novel coronavirus patients.

The first 22 started work yesterday after completing professional training.

Their main job is to call close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 patients and make sure their contact information is correct so that the city’s health workers can find them in person to implement quarantine measures.

They will also help track the movement of close contacts since their last contact with confirmed cases and register their close contacts.

The students and teacher from the Shanghai University of Medicine & Health Sciences will work alongside about 40 staff at the Shanghai Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The center said its team has been working for more than 60 straight days and kept records of over 24,000 people. They had sought volunteers to relieve the burden on its workers.

The team works in two groups. One is responsible for getting in touch with close contacts on the same plane as confirmed cases who flew to Shanghai from other countries.

The other is for communicating with other Chinese cities and provinces in tracking close contacts of confirmed cases.

Ying Na, a pharmaceutical sciences student graduating this year, is one of the volunteers.

She is in charge of communication with other cities and provinces. “My fellow volunteers and I are seasoned in volunteer work, so we can communicate with others well,” she said.

Liu Danni, who has been a team member at the center for over two months, said the job carried a lot of responsibility.

“When you have a person’s seat number on the plane, you have to confirm with that person whether he or she had changed seats on the flight,” she said.

Workers also have to confirm the addresses of close contacts because sometimes the address given is not where the person lives, Liu said.

The volunteers have undergone 40 hours’ professional training and were offered a laptop and a flash drive exclusively for the purpose of the job, as well as protective materials, including masks and disinfectant wipes.

And they have to make sure not to send the data collected through their work via instant messaging services.

The volunteers signed a pledge to stick to privacy protection rules before they started work.


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