Contact Tracing is medical term which describes a process used to identify, trace, and contact people potentially exposed to highly infection contagion such as the Coronavirus in highly communicable situation in the recent past.
For example, if you were sitting on a plane within 2-3 rows of a person who later tested positive for the COVID19 virus, healthcare officials would make a list of people sitting in close proximity to that passenger, contact them and request they self-quarantine for 14 days to prevent spreading COVID19 should they become ill themselves.
There is a science to this that allows contact tracing of the newly exposed individuals to notify who they came into contact in the exact period of time where they may have become infectious. Hint: immediately after walking off the plane after exposure, the “seat-mates” would not have enough virus load to slough off the virus off into the air or be infectious themselves for a period of time. How much time is yet to be determined exactly.
Contact tracing has been done in many countries during this pandemic to try and limit the spread of COVID19. South Korea has used contact tracing through privacy invasive methods including compiling cell phone GPS data, credit card data, and other public/private information to track where citizens have been. While this type of privacy invasion was possible in South Korea, it might not be possible, legal, or tolerated by US Citizens, as it raises multiple concerns about privacy rights.
Sources: MorningBrew, World Health Organization
Additional Reading: Massachusetts Leads With First Major U.S. Contact Tracing Program
Related Terms: Facial Recognition