LUCKNOW: Call Data Records (CDRs), used in crime investigation by police, are being analysed across Uttar Pradesh to trace contacts of COVID-19 patients, officials say.
In Kerala, a controversy has erupted over the decision to allow police to access phone call records of COVID-19 patients for effective contact-tracing, with the opposition Congress slamming the Left government, saying it is an "infringement" on the privacy of citizens.
Some patients, the officials say, deliberately try to hide their information or share wrong or incomplete information with health officials during treatment, making it difficult to trace their contacts and prevent the chain of virus transmission.
Sample this: Ghaziabad has so far detected 6,567 people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
According to officials, 637 contacts (almost 10 per cent) were traced by the district police, which used surveillance methods, among others, for the job.
Prashant Kumar, additional director general of police (law and order) said, "The police chiefs of all the districts in the state have been instructed to use all viable means as required.
" "We have said that contact-tracing should be done.
But how it will be done is to be decided by the district authorities," Kumar told PTI.
Dr Bharat Bhushan, in-charge of contact-tracing in Gautam Buddh Nagar, another high caseload district, said primarily the teams comprising health and administration officials carry out the job.
There are five basic methods for contact-tracing, he said.
First, the teams call up patients and find out their contacts.
Then, there are rapid response teams (RRTs) which a site and gather information on COVID-19 patients.
At block levels, the teams gather details on the basis of the results of antigen-based COVID-19 tests.
The results are quick, helping officials isolate families and contacts of infected persons.
The officials remain connected with private and government labs which test COVID-19.
The labs are mandated to fill up an ICMR-made form with details of a person who gets tested and accordingly their contacts are traced.
The fifth method is gathering details about patients from L1, L2, and L3 hospitals in the district.
"Almost 90 to 95 per cent contact tracing is done by these methods.
For remaining people, the police help is sought because at times the phone numbers of patient are switched off or go unresponsive, leading to difficulty in contact tracing," Bhushan told PTI.
Ghaziabad Superintendent of Police (Crime) Gyanendra Kumar Singh said at times some people have tried to hide their contact details or given misleading, incorrect or incomplete information.
"We get calls from the district integrated control room which provide us with information of infected people whose contacts are to be traced.
This happens when the phone numbers given by such people are found inaccessible or address details yield no result," Singh, the senior officer involved in contact tracing in Ghaziabad, said.
He said the police then use the CDR or surveillance methods to gather required information and trace contacts.
On privacy issues during surveillance of phones, Singh said, Hiding or giving misleading information regarding COVID-19 is a crime according to the law.
As per the last available UP government update, the state had 51,537 active cases of COVID-19.
The overall tally of infection was 1,54,418 and the death toll stood at 2,449.
On the brighter side, more than one lakh patients have recovered from the novel coronavirus and the state's recovery rate stood at 65.03 per cent, the official data showed Sunday.