What is a close contact?
A close contact is someone who has been near enough to a person with COVID-19 that there is a reasonable chance they may have been infected with the virus.
It includes someone who has been near a person with COVID-19 in the 72 hours before they got symptoms, or at any time while the person with COVID-19 is able to spread the disease.
Close contacts do not include healthcare workers and other people who use infection control precautions, including personal protective equipment, while caring for someone with COVID-19.
Primary close contact
A primary close contact is generally someone who might have been exposed to the virus through:
- face-to-face contact (for any amount of time) with someone with COVID-19 while they were able to spread the virus, including in the 72 hours before they got symptoms
- sharing a closed space (for example, a room or office) with a someone with COVID-19 for at least an hour (or less if there is higher risk than normal, for example if there is poor air flow or people in the closed space were shouting or singing)
- being in a place that has a lot of COVID-19, for example a country where the virus is spreading in the community
- being in a place where there is higher risk of COVID-19 spreading, at that time of higher risk.
Public Health will tell you if you are a primary close contact. You will be required to quarantine away from other people for 14 days after the potential exposure, and be tested.
Secondary close contact
Public Health will tell you if you are a secondary close contact. If that happens, you will need to quarantine away from other people. Public Health will tell you what to do.
What is a casual contact?
A casual contact is someone who may have been near a person with COVID-19 while they were able to spread the virus, but who is at lower risk of being infected than a close contact.
You might find out you are a casual contact by text message from Public Health, or when you realise you have been at a place that Public Health announces has increased risk.
Depending on the level of risk assessed by Public Health, causal contacts may be asked to:
- isolate in quarantine, get tested and watch for symptoms (you will need to stay in quarantine until you have a negative test result and Public Health advises you can leave quarantine); OR
- watch for symptoms carefully for 14 days after being near the person with COVID-19 and get tested if even mild symptoms occur.