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Sonya prepares for Christmas Day Contact Tracing

Sonya with her children - Sophie, Sam, Arthur, Oscar, Flor and Murphy the dog

On Christmas Day, Sonya Keogh will perform a very important job this year – Clinical Contact Tracer at the Cork based Contact Tracing Centre. As a mum to six (aged from 26 to 10) however, Sonya will also perform an equally important job – ensuring Santa arrives securely and all presents are delivered in a socially distant, public health assured manner.


Explaining that on Christmas Day she will be “responding in whatever way I can.  We will be calling newly positive cases, giving public health advice and arranging tests for their loved ones.” Sonya says that is looking forward to the day:  “We all get along well in the Centre and we value the job we are doing.  I think it is no harm for my children to see their mother prioritise public health in a year like no other and it will do my older children the world of good to put the dinner together.”


Although this is Sonya’s first Christmas Day away from her family she stresses that she “doesn’t mind in the least.  It is necessary. It feels vital and I am grateful to play a small part.”  Anticipating Christmas Day in the Tracing Centre, Sonya says that she knows the “Cork CTC will be bright and friendly.  We will have an important day’s work ahead of us.  Some people, naturally, when we ring them,  will be upset to hear from us – others will be relieved.  We are a good team and we will meet the day’s challenge together. We will of course have break times.  Our Centre has a beautiful Christmas tree and I suspected there may be some turkey and ham sandwiches and festive treats to keep us going.”

 Amazing team

Sonya, who runs her own International Youth Arts Production Company and has produced international art installations for the Dept of Foreign Affairs World EXPOS in Shanghai and Milan, joined the Cork Tracing Centre in October.  Like many others, 2020 has been year of change, challenge and new experiences for Sonya.  Explaining her move to work in the Centre, she notes: “I couldn’t just sit at home.  I needed to bring my skills to the frontline.  Cork CTC took me and I am delighted to be there.  It’s a fantastic work environment – it’s vital and vibrant and its really great being part of such an amazing team.”


Acknowledging that she will be missing the dinner preparations at home, Sonya reflects: “Believe me, with a large family I am not complaining! It will be nice to arrive home to my children and to the fire on Christmas night after a long day’s work. I will no doubt feel tired but having done a good day’s work, will only make it feel all the more special.”


But what about Santa and those all important presents for the younger Keoghs? “We will be up earlier to open presents. Usually I don’t allow the house to wake up until 8am on Christmas morning.  We usually have an alarm clock on the landing,  but this year we will be up well before dawn.  They will put Christmas dinner on hold until I get home – so it will be much later than our usual 2pm dinner. But we’ll make on occasion of it and light some candles and pull some crackers.”


Reflecting on her experience in her job in recent months, Sonya says she has spoken with “some extremely vulnerable people whose lives have been dreadfully impacted by Covid-19, some families have suffered the death of a loved one due to Covid-19. These calls can stay with you and I often find myself wishing them peace. It has been a most challenging year for us all and in so many different ways.”


And as she prepares for Christmas Day 2020, Sonya simply advises: “Do what you need to do to keep yourself and your family safe and well and have a very Merry and Safe Christmas.”