What to do if you’re told you’re a close contact

Who’s a close contact?

For COVID-19, a close contact is anyone who was within 6 feet (2 metres) for a combined total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period while someone’s in their infectious period.

The infectious period, which is when someone can spread illness, is usually 2 days before the start of their symptoms until 10 days after symptoms develop.

Ask yourself these questions

If someone’s told you you’re a contact, ask yourself the questions in the following steps.

Step 1

What was the last date that you spent time with the person you’re a close contact of?

Make note of the date and use it to calculate your period of self-isolation or self-monitoring in step 4 and 5.

Step 2

Have you had a lab diagnosis of COVID-19 within the past 90 days?

No

If you have not, go to step 3.

Yes

If you have, go to step 4.

Step 3

Are you fully immunized with the COVID-19 vaccine? 

  • If you are not moderately to severely immunosuppressed due to illness or medication, you’d need to have had 2 doses at least 2 weeks before you were exposed to COVID-19.
  • If you are moderately to severely immunosuppressed due to illness or medication, you’d need to have had 3 doses at least 2 weeks before you were exposed. 

Yes

If you’re fully immunized, go to step 4.

No

If you are not fully immunized, go to step 5.

Step 4

If you’re fully vaccinated, self-monitor for symptoms for 2 weeks (14 days) after the date of your last exposure to the person you’re a close contact of.

If you develop any symptoms:

  • self-isolate; and
  • arrange to get tested.

If you develop symptoms and decide to not be tested, then self-isolate for 10 days after symptoms start.

Remember that even if your symptoms have gone away, you can still infect others. So if you choose not to be tested, continuing to isolate for the full time is very important to protect the health of the people around you.

Although you do not have to self-isolate if you have no symptoms, consider spending less time with others, especially people at risk of serious illness.

Wearing a medical grade mask will also protect those around you.

Calculating your self-monitoring period

It’s sometimes hard to calculate the monitoring period. Try looking at a calendar and using this to count out the days. The 2 weeks (14 days) you must self-monitor start the day after you were last exposed to the person with COVID-19.

For instance, if the last day you were exposed to the person with COVID-19 was a Monday, and you find out on Tuesday, you start your 14 days of self-monitoring immediately on Tuesday. You can stop self-monitoring at midnight 14 days from the Tuesday, which is a Monday.

Step 5 

If you are not fully vaccinated:

  • self-isolate for 10 days after the date of your last exposure; then
  • self–monitor for symptoms for an additional 4 days.

If you develop any symptoms, no matter how mild, arrange to get tested. If you decide to not be tested, then self-isolate for 10 days after symptoms start.

Remember that even if your symptoms have gone away, you can still infect others. So if you choose not to be tested, continuing to isolate for the full time is very important to protect the health of the people around you.

You still need to self-isolate even if your test is negative

If you’re tested for COVID-19 and the test is negative, this does not shorten the isolation time. 

If you do not have any symptoms after the 10 days, you no longer need to self-isolate but should continue to self-monitor for symptoms. 

Calculating your self-isolating and self-monitoring period

The 10 days you must self-isolate start the day after you were last exposed to the person with COVID-19. The 4 days you must self-monitor start the day after your last day of self-isolating.

For instance, f the last day you were exposed to the person with COVID-19 was a Monday, and you find out on a Tuesday, you start your 10 days of self-isolating immediately on Tuesday. You can stop self-isolating at midnight 10 days from the Tuesday, which is a Thursday. Your self-monitoring period then starts the day after on the Friday and ends at midnight on the Monday.

Symptoms to self-monitor for

Monitor yourself for COVID-19 symptoms.

  • fever
  • chills
  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • runny nose
  • sore throat
  • loss of sense of taste or smell
  • headache
  • fatigue
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea and vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • muscle aches

Your symptoms may be mild or severe. They often vary in people who are very young or older people. While most people will experience mild illness, others are at higher risk for severe illness.

Get tested

If you develop symptoms, no matter how mild, arrange to get tested. When you call, mention that you’re a close contact of someone with COVID-19.