State Government Victoria Australia Department of Health header
State Government Victoria
Victorian Government Health Information
Health Home
Main A to Z Index | Site Map | About Health  

October 2021

Man sat at computers wearing a mask jpeg
Ammar Haque

Advice from contact tracing team leader

Ammar Haque’s message for the community is simple – at the slightest hint of any symptoms, such as a scratchy throat or a slight runny nose, go and get tested.

‘We consider people COVID-19 infectious 48 hours before the first day they show symptoms,’ Mr Haque said.

‘So the moment anyone starts showing any COVID-19 symptoms – do it.

‘If someone delays it by three or four days and they continue going to work or continue interacting with different people, it could be almost a whole week of when they’ve been interacting while infectious.

‘It’s quite drastic ramifications if they don’t get tested.

‘Every single person with COVID doesn’t realise they have COVID, until they get tested.’

A bachelor of paramedicine graduate, Mr Haque has been working in the North Eastern Public Health Unit (NEPHU) for the past 12 months as a contact tracer and, more recently, as a team leader.

He was interviewed in a podcast by Muslim Health Professionals Australia (MHPA), a non-profit organisation which aims to advocate for the health needs of Muslims and engage in activities that promote and improve the health of the wider community.

The monthly podcasts feature interviews with the ‘quiet heroes of our healthcare system’ and are shared on the MHPA Facebook page to keep the community updated and informed during the pandemic.

Mr Haque said there were many aspects to his job, including calling people who were positive with COVID, calling people who had come into contact with those who were positive and then calling their contacts, to find out where they had been.

He said his team also liaised with positive cases and spoke with members of the public to assist with their queries.

Mr Haque admitted his team was in ‘surge mode’ at the time of the MHPA podcast because of the rising case numbers in the state.

‘We have a little slogan – go fast, stop COVID, report back to base.

‘It involves getting people tested as soon as we can, figuring out where they’ve been and we start downstream contact tracing that process.

‘We contact everyone they’ve been in contact with during their infectious period, then contact everyone they have been in contact with during their potential infectious period.

‘It’s a massive amount of work for each positive case.’

Mr Haque’s work can be impacted if people are not co-operative or forthcoming with their information, or they simply could not remember where they had been.

‘We use different strategies such as looking at bank records and movements and work off that information.’

NEPHU is one of nine local public health units established to provide a response to COVID outbreaks.

Led by Austin Health, NEPHU is a collaboration between Austin, Eastern Health and Northern Health with staff across all three sites.