Advice for contacts

Last Updated: 30 Sep 2022 4:59pm

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Close contacts

Close contacts are at higher risk of testing positive to COVID-19 and passing the virus on to others.

Public Health requires close contacts to follow certain rules.

These rules are outlined in orders under the Public Health Act (1997).

Under the Public Health Act (1997), a COVID-19 case is someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 using a rapid antigen test (RAT) or Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.

A close contact is:

  • anyone who has stayed overnight in the same premises as a case during their infectious period, other than in the course of their work, or
  • anyone who has spent more than four hours (over a 24-hour period) in a residential setting with a case during their infectious period, other than in the course of their work.

A case’s infectious period is from two days prior to when they tested positive until they are released from isolation.

Where a significant transmission event has occurred, Public Health may also consider those who were at the setting or venue to be close contacts.

People who have recovered from COVID-19 in the last 4 weeks are not considered to be close contacts and do not need to follow close contact rules.

If it has been more than 4 weeks since you were released from isolation after having COVID-19, normal rules apply and you will be considered a close contact if you meet the above definitions.

Anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 should notify their close contacts so they can follow the close contact requirements including testing for COVID-19.

You will not be contacted by Public Health once identified as a close contact. If you need help or support, call the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738.

Rules for close contacts

Under the Public Health Act (1997), if you are a close contact you must:

  • Immediately have a COVID-19 test once you are aware you are a close contact
  • Return a negative test once a day before you leave the house for the 7 days after you have been told you are a close contact
  • All close contacts must test on day 6, regardless of whether they are leaving their home or not
  • Isolate and test immediately if you have any symptoms, even mild
  • Isolate immediately if you test positive for COVID-19 (become a case)
  • Wear a face mask in any indoor space outside your home, unless you have a mask exemption. Read about exemptions
  • Tell your workplace you are a close contact
  • Not attend any high-risk settings (hospitals, aged care facilities, residential disability settings and correctional facilities). Close contacts can only attend these facilities if they:
    • are a resident
    • are a patient
    • are a worker if a workplace risk assessment enables them to do so
    • are responding to an emergency
    • have permission of the Director of Public Health or a delegate

It is also recommended that during the close contact period (7 days from when you are told you are a close contact), close contacts should:

  • Avoid large gatherings and social events where physical distancing is not possible
  • Avoid contact with those at risk of severe disease including elderly people, people who are immunocompromised and those with chronic conditions
  • Maintain all COVID safe behaviours
Day 0Day 1Day 2

Date sample was collected from primary case within household (if you live with the case) or date of exposure to confirmed COVID-19 case (if you do not live with the case): test as soon as you are told you are a close contact

TEST – even if not leaving home

Test - if leaving home – follow the rules

Test - if leaving home – follow the rules

Day 3Day 4Day 5

Test - if leaving home – follow the rules

Test - if leaving home – follow the rules

Test - if leaving home – follow the rules

Day 6Day 7

TEST – even if not leaving home – follow the rules

No longer close contact

View Infographic - What to do if you are a close contact.

No longer a close contact

If you live with a person who has tested positive to COVID-19, you remain a close contact for 7 days following the date the first case in your household tested positive.

If you do not live with the positive case you remain a close contact for 7 days from the date of your last exposure to the case during their infectious period.

A person is not a close contact if the case was isolating in a separate part of the premises, for example a granny flat.

If another person in your household tests positive during your close contact period, your 7-day close contact period does not start again but you should continue to monitor for symptoms and avoid high risk premises for a further seven days

Isolate immediately and test for COVID-19 if you develop symptoms. Once 7 days are complete, there is still a small risk you can become a case and you should continue to monitor for symptoms.

If a close contact becomes a case, they will need to isolate for at least 7 days from testing positive, until released from isolation.

Infographic: Requirements for close contacts and COVID-19 cases

Living with someone who has COVID-19

If someone in your household tests positive to COVID-19 and is in isolation, the following measures are recommended to reduce the risk to others in the household:

  • Avoid physical contact with the case - the case should have their own room or area away from others at all times. Sleep in a separate room/area. Make sure the home/premises has good air flow (open the windows to increase air circulation). Wear a face mask at all times if you must be near the case.
  • Do not share household items – such as cutlery, plates, towels, bedding. The items used by the case must be washed thoroughly.
  • Do not share food and drinks
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces (like door handles, sink taps and benches) in shared areas at least daily, using normal household detergent or disinfectant.
  • Have own bathroom if possible. If there is only one bathroom, any windows in the bathroom should remain open, fans on and ensure the toilet is flushed with the lid closed.
  • Leave food, snacks and essential items at the closed door of the bedroom/room of the case.