Treatments and tests

Contact tracing for COVID-19

If you have COVID-19, you could pass it on to other people that you have come into contact with.

Contact tracing is the process of identifying, assessing, and managing people who have been exposed to someone who has been infected with the virus to prevent it spreading further through the community. It is an important tool for controlling the spread of the virus.

Contact tracing is also used to control the spread of other infectious illnesses such as meningococcal diseasetuberculosis and sexually transmissible infections and blood-borne viruses.

Contact tracing process

COVID-19 contact tracing is managed from the Public Health Emergency Operations Centre (PHEOC) in East Perth. The contact tracing process involves determining who a person has been in contact with in the days they were possibly infectious.

The contact tracers are largely nurses and other health professionals, all tracking positive cases and close contacts.

Every positive COVID-19 result in WA is immediately flagged by a laboratory to PHEOC.

  • Contact positive case
    If a person tests positive, they will be contacted by PHEOC who will inform them about their result and let them know they need to stay in quarantine.
  • Identify contacts
    Contact tracers will then try and work out where they have been, who they have seen and where they might have contracted COVID-19.
  • Contact close contacts
    Once the case interview is done, the contact tracer will start calling their close contacts.
  • Monitor and support contacts
    People who are required to quarantine, whether they are a positive case or close contact, are supported by the team until they are cleared to leave quarantine.

Who is a close contact?

WA has moved to a high caseload environment.

In the high caseload environment, a ‘close’ contact is defined as:

  • a household member or intimate partner of a person with COVID-19 who has had contact with them during their infectious period; or
  • someone who has had close personal interaction with someone during their infectious period, where that interaction involved:
    • at least 15 minutes face-to-face contact where a mask was not worn by the exposed person and the person with COVID-19;
    • greater than two hours within a small room, where masks have been removed for this period by the exposed person and the person with COVID-19 (note: if others are wearing masks in this scenario they would not be a contact); or
    • someone who is directed by WA Health that they are a close contact.

In this environment, WA Health will no longer classify people as casual contacts.

Public Health

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional advice. Information about a service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace professional advice. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified professional for answers to their questions.

Coronavirus information helplines: 13 COVID (13 268 43). Interstate callers: 1800 595 206. International callers: +61 8 9118 3100.