Advice for contacts

Last Updated: 16 May 2022 10:30am

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Close contacts

It is important to know what to do if you are a close contact of a COVID-19 case.

Close contacts are:

  • anyone who lives with or stays overnight in the same premises as a case (which is someone who has tested positive for COVID 19 using a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) or Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test
  • anyone who has spent more than 4 hours in a residential setting with a confirmed case during their infectious period. The infectious period of a case is two days prior to developing symptoms or two days prior to when they tested positive if they did not have symptoms.

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

Anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 must notify their close contacts so they can follow the requirements of a close contact and get tested.

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

Rules for close contacts

If you’re a close contact you must:

  • Immediately have a COVID-19 test once you are aware you are a close contact
  • Test daily with a RAT for 7 days if you are leaving home. If you are not leaving home every day, you must do a second test on day 6
  • Isolate and test immediately if you have any symptoms, even mild
  • Isolate immediately if you test positive
  • Wear a face mask outside your home, when in any indoor space, unless a mask exemption is in place. Read about exemptions
  • Tell your workplace you are a close contact
  • Not attend any high-risk settings such as hospitals, aged care facilities, residential disability settings and correctional facilities, unless you are a critical worker with an exemption. Read about exemptions for critical workers
  • Not provide in-home care services for aged or disability clients, unless a critical worker exemption is in place
  • Not attend a support school unless a critical worker exemption is in place

It is also recommended that close contacts:

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

Date sample was collected from primary case within household or date of exposure to confirmed COVID-19 case

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

No longer close contact

You remain a close contact for 7 days following the date the first case in your household tested positive or, if you don’t live with the case, the date you last had exposure to the case.

Close contacts not living with the positive person (also known as household-like contacts) will need to follow the same rules set out above from the date of the last exposure to the infectious COVID-19 case.

Once 7 days are complete, there is still a small risk you can become a case and you should continue to monitor for symptoms, isolate immediately if symptoms develop and get tested.

Anyone who has symptoms must get a test. 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 is diagnosed with COVID-19 and is in isolation, it is important to maintain appropriate separation in the household:

  • Sleep in a separate room/area - the confirmed case must have their own room or area away from others at all times. Make sure the home/premises has good air flow (open the windows to increase air circulation).
  • Avoid all physical contact with the case – wear a face mask at all times when you are near the confirmed case and make sure that you are in a different room to the case at all times.
  • Do not share household items – such as cutlery, plates, towels, bedding. The items used by the confirmed 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

The confirmed case will need to have their own bathroom if possible. If there is only one bathroom, any windows in the bathroom should remain open, fans on and the toilet flushed with the lid closed.

Household members delivering food, snacks and essential items to the bedroom/room of the confirmed case should leave the food at the closed door.

A contingency framework is in place to enable workplaces that are high-risk settings to register for essential staff to be exempt from the requirements for close contacts if they are identified as a critical worker. See Framework for critical industries for more details.

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

Social contacts

Confirmed cases must tell their social contacts that they have tested positive for COVID-19 so they can monitor for symptoms and get tested if any develop.

Social contacts are people who have:

  • had 15 minutes of face-to-face contact with a confirmed case, or
  • spent over 2 hours with a confirmed case in the same indoor space during their infectious period

Social contacts are not people from a confirmed cases workplace or school.

What you are required to do if you are a social contact

Social contacts are not required to quarantine. If you develop symptoms, you must get tested and stay at home until you receive a negative test result.

Workplaces

If a confirmed case worked onsite while infectious, they must tell their employer/workplace they have tested positive to COVID-19.

Contacts of a case who attended the workplace while infectious will not be deemed as close contacts and will not be required to quarantine. Workplaces will not be required to close. Usual cleaning and disinfection procedures will be required to be undertaken.

The employer/workplace will advise staff who were also onsite at the same time as a confirmed case to monitor for symptoms and get tested if symptoms develop.

To reduce any risk of transmission it is important workplaces continue following COVID-safe behaviours. These may include:

  • Wearing face masks if unable to physically distance away from others
  • Maintaining physical distancing
  • Staying home when unwell and get tested
  • Practicing hand hygiene
  • Being up to date with COVID-19 vaccination

Education and early childhood facilities

If you, or your child attended an education facility (school, childcare or early childhood) while infectious, you must tell the education facility you have tested positive for COVID-19.

For more information about confirmed cases will be managed see Department of Education