COVID-19 close contacts

A close contact is:

  • a household member or intimate partner of a person with COVID-19 who has had contact with them during their infectious period,
  • someone who has had close personal interaction with a person with COVID-19 during their infectious period, where they spent 4 hours of cumulative contact with them in a residential setting (including a home, residential care facility, boarding school, maritime vessel or other accommodation facility) in any 24-hour period where masks have been removed by both people during the period of contact
  • someone who is informed by WA Health that they are a close contact.

Free RATs are available for close contacts. Close contacts with no symptoms can leave their place of isolation provided they undertake a daily RAT, wear a mask at all times outside the home, and avoid high-risk settings. Collection locations are available at wa.gov.au (external site).

Infectious period

The infectious period is taken from 48 hours before onset of symptoms, or 48 hours before the positive test result if they do not have symptoms, until the end of their isolation period. For example, if they first tested positive on Wednesday afternoon, their infectious period started on Monday afternoon.

What to do if you're a close contact

Notify your employer or educational institution that you are a close contact. Your 7-day close contact period begins from:

  • For household contacts: the date of the case’s positive test
  • For other close contact: the last time you had contact with the person who tested positive

Close contacts with no symptoms

Testing

You must take a PCR test on Day 6 or RAT on Day 7

Leaving isolation

Close contacts with no symptoms may leave the home during their 7-day isolation period, provided that they have met certain conditions.

Close contacts with no symptoms must:

  • obtain a negative result from a rapid antigen test undertaken on each day on which you propose to leave isolation
  • be able to provide photographic evidence of a negative result from a rapid antigen test taken by you on that day
  • wear a mask including from when you leave home until you return
  • avoid high-risk settings, including hospitals, healthcare settings, disability and aged care facilities, and correctional facilities.

Close contacts with no symptoms are strongly encouraged to:

  • avoid non-essential gatherings and contact with people at risk of severe illness
  • work from home, where possible.

Close contacts with symptoms

  • Take a PCR or RAT as soon as you develop symptoms
  • If the RAT returns a negative result, repeat the test 24 hours later
  • If your PCR test or your first RAT was on Day 7, you must continue to isolate until you are informed that the PCR returned a negative result or until your second RAT returns a negative result
  • Close contacts with symptoms must continue to isolate until symptoms resolve
  • Once symptoms have resolved, close contacts who are not cases should follow the protocols for close contacts with no symptoms (see above) for the balance of the 7-day isolation period
  • If a close contact tests positive, they must isolate for 7 days after their positive test result and follow the requirements for positive COVID-19 cases.

See the What to do if you are a COVID-19 close contact (PDF 295KB) fact sheet for a summary of the requirements when you’re a close contact.

Frequently asked questions

I am an asymptomatic close contact. Do I need to isolate?

If you are close contact but have no symptoms you can leave home during your close contact period, provided you have recorded a negative rapid antigen test that day and can provide photographic evidence of that test result, wear a mask when leaving home and avoid high-risk settings including hospitals, health care settings disability and aged care facilities and correctional facilities.

You should also avoid non-essential gatherings and any contact with people at risk of severe illness.

If you have symptoms or develop symptoms at any time, you must get tested and isolate immediately

See protocols for close contacts with symptoms.

I am a symptomatic close contact and isolating at home. Do other people in my household need to isolate?

No, other people in the same household as a close contact do not need to isolate. If you test positive for COVID-19, then the people in your household should follow protocols for close contacts.

I am a parent/guardian of a child, who is a symptomatic close contact. Do I need to isolate with my son/daughter?

No. If you are a parent/guardian you are not required to isolate but need to ensure that your child is appropriately cared for. This may mean you need to miss work or work from home while your child is in isolation. Siblings who have not been identified as symptomatic close contacts are permitted to attend school.

All household members are encouraged to take extra precautions, where appropriate (e.g. wear a mask when leaving the home) and monitor for symptoms. If symptoms consistent with COVID-19 are experienced, they should get tested immediately.

Can my child attend childcare or early childhood education if they are a close contact with no symptoms?

Asymptomatic children under 2 years who are close contacts do not need to take a rapid antigen test to leave their isolation premises and may attend childcare during their isolation period if the childcare centre allows it.

Childcare centres should determine whether they will allow or exclude children who are close contacts with no symptoms and develop a local policy outlining their position. This would enable childcare centres that are uncomfortable allowing asymptomatic close contacts attending care to apply their policy to exclude them.

Parents/carers are strongly recommended to advise their childcare service if their child is an asymptomatic close contact to enable the centre to communicate its position on attendance by close contacts.

My partner has tested positive to COVID-19. Can our children still go to school?

Yes, provided they do not have COVID-like symptoms. See the protocols for close contacts with symptoms and no symptoms at the top of this section.

My partner recovered from COVID-19 several weeks ago. I was diagnosed with COVID-19 yesterday. Is my partner a close contact?

If your partner had COVID-19 within the past 4 weeks, they have short-term natural immunity to the disease and are not considered a close contact.

I am a household close contact in an aged care facility or residential care facility, how do the changes to the isolation rules affect me?

If you live in a congregate living facility such as an aged care facility, or residential care facility (including a disability care facility or mental health residential facility) and become a household close contact, you must wear a mask inside and outside the facility when you are in contact with other people. See the protocols for close contacts with symptoms and no symptoms at the top of this section.

Can I leave isolation to get a COVID-19 vaccination?

Close contacts with no COVID-like symptoms are not required to isolate and can attend a facility for a COVID-19 vaccination provided they:

  • are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine
  • can produce photographic evidence of a negative rapid antigen test (RAT) taken that day
  • wear a mask at all times while not in their home.

Close contacts with COVID-like symptoms cannot leave isolation for a COVID-19 vaccination.

Recovered cases

If you have recovered from COVID-19 and you are told you are a close contact of a case within 4 weeks since you completed isolation, including if you have symptoms that could be consistent with COVID-19, you are told you are a close contact or for workplace screening, you will not be considered a close contact and you do not need to isolate or be tested for COVID-19.

You should, however, stay at home until your symptoms resolve to prevent the spread of other infections. Your healthcare provider may suggest you are tested for other respiratory viruses, such as influenza, during this time.

If you have recovered from COVID-19 and you develop symptoms more than 4 weeks after you have completed the required isolation for COVID-19, you will need to be retested for COVID-19, in case you have been re-infected.

Workers in high-risk settings

Close contacts with no symptoms who work in a high-risk setting may enter a high-risk setting to attend work with the following requirements.

You must:

  • advise your employer that you are a close contact, and receive confirmation from your employer that the employer agrees to you attending work
  • be fully vaccinated
  • return a daily negative RAT prior to leaving home
  • actively monitor for symptoms
  • leave the workplace and return home immediately if you develop symptoms or test positive
  • only remain at the high-risk setting for the purpose of your work duties
  • wear a surgical mask at minimum (or another mask as required by workplace)
  • not share break areas with any other person at the high-risk setting
  • use reasonable endeavours to maintain a physical distance of 1.5m from other people in the workplace.

*High-risk settings include aged care facilities, residential care facilities (including disability care and mental health residential facilities), health care settings and correctional facilities.

Health care settings include any health facility where health care is delivered to patients face-to-face (including public and private hospitals, ambulance and patient transport services, primary health clinics, specialist outpatient services, day procedure centres and allied health services).

Further information

Last reviewed: 04-08-2022