Information for Close Contacts of a COVID-19 Case

COVID-19

Last Updated: May 31, 2021

What to Do If You're a Close Contact

SMS Text Message Consent|Testing and Quarantine Information| What it means to be a Close Contact| Received Multiple Text Messages from AHS| Additional Resources

SMS Text Message Consent

Why did I receive a text message from AHS?

AHS notifies people by text message to inform them of the following:

  • Their COVID-19 test result
  • They have been identified as a close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19
  • Their required period of isolation is over

Why is AHS asking for my consent to send text messages to me?

Close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case

If you have been identified as a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case, you will receive two text messages from AHS. The first message will ask for your consent to receive health information related to COVID-19 from AHS by text message.

If you receive this message, it is not a scam. AHS will never ask for your financial information. This is a legitimate communication from AHS and we encourage you to provide consent. The second message you will receive has information specific to you, your exposures and instructions you need to keep you and those around you safe.

Consenting to these text messages ensures we are able to provide you the information you need, as quickly as possible.

COVID-19 test result

When you book an appointment for your COVID-19 test, AHS will ask for your consent to receive your test result and other information about your health relating to COVID-19 (e.g., information about applicable isolation requirements) through text message or automated phone message. This ensures we are able to provide you the information you need, as quickly as possible.

For more information go to Advice for People Tested for COVID-19.

What if I do not consent to receive text messages from AHS?

Close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case

If you have been identified as a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case and do not consent to receive text messages from AHS, we will not be able to share important health information with you. This includes exposures you have had, testing and quarantine instructions.

Please refer to the information below for testing and quarantine information, what it means to be a close contact and household close contacts.

COVID-19 test result

If you do not consent to receive your COVID-19 test result through text message or automated phone message, an AHS Public Health team member will call you directly to make sure you get your test results. For more information go to Advice for People Tested for COVID-19.

Testing and Quarantine Information

I am a close contact of a COVID-19 case. What should I do?

If you are a close contact of a person who has COVID-19, You are legally required to quarantine for 14 days*. This is mandatory under the Public Health Act.

You are required to quarantine for the full 14 days, even if your COVID-19 test comes back negative.

On the day you were tested, there may not have been enough virus in your body for the test to pick up. You could become infectious at any time after that during your quarantine period.

*If you are immunized for COVID-19, different quarantine rules and testing recommendations may apply if you are exposed to a person with COVID-19. See Quarantine for Immunized Close Contacts for more information.

See Isolation & Quarantine and Alberta Health Isolation and Quarantine Requirements for more information.

How do I get my results?

How can I prepare for quarantine?

Do I still have to quarantine for 14 days if my test comes back negative?

Yes. On the day you were tested, there may not have been enough virus in your body for the test to pick up. You could become infectious at any time after that during your quarantine period.

Immunized close contacts have different quarantine requirements. See Quarantine for Immunized Close Contacts for more information.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19 and should I monitor myself for them?

What exemptions are there to mandatory quarantine?

What it means to be a Close Contact

What does it mean to be a close contact of a COVID-19 case?

A close contact is anyone who, during the infectious period:

  • lived with or was within two metres of a person who has COVID-19 for 15 minutes or more of cumulative contact, i.e. multiple interactions for a total of 15 minutes or more, even if a mask was worn during that contact, or
  • had direct contact with infectious bodily fluids of a person who has COVID-19 (e.g., shared items such as drinks, personal hygiene items, cigarettes, vapes, lipstick, eating utensils, etc.) or was coughed or sneezed on, or
  • provided direct care for a person who has COVID-19, or
  • had physical contact with a person who has COVID-19, such as handshake, hugging, kissing, or sexual activity

For sports that involve close, sustained or intermittent and repeated contact, all members of the teams playing each other are considered close contacts when there is a case on a team.

For schools, generally, all students who share a classroom with a student who was infectious with COVID-19 are considered close contacts.

Anyone who falls into any of the above categories is considered a close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19. Wearing a mask is not sufficient to exempt you from being considered a close contact.

Consistent and appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE) by regulated health care professionals must be assessed to determine if the individual had adequate protection from a potential COVID-19 exposure. This is determined by a professional with knowledge and expertise in infection prevention and control.

When can a person with COVID-19 spread the disease to others?

The time that a person can spread COVID-19 to others is called the infectious period.

For a person with COVID-19 who has symptoms, the infectious period is 48 hours before the start of symptoms until 10 days after the start of their symptoms. For some people this may be longer. See Isolation & Quarantine for more information.

For a person with COVID-19 who had no symptoms when they were tested, the infectious period is 2 days before they had their test done, to 10 days after the date of their test (if they remain symptom free). If the person develops symptoms after getting a test, they are infectious for the rest of their symptom period.
For most people, this is until 10 days after the start of their symptoms. See Isolation & Quarantine for more information.

Household Close Contacts

What if the person who has COVID-19 shares the same house as me?

In addition to following the recommended quarantine and testing guidance, take the following precautions:

  • It is highly recommended that ALL people who have tested positive for COVID-19 isolate away from their household members to prevent ongoing exposure. This applies even when household members have been immunized for COVID-19.
  • Choose a room in your home you can use to separate sick household members from healthy ones, if possible.
  • Choose a separate bathroom for sick individuals to use, if possible.
  • Plan to clean these rooms as needed when someone is sick.
  • Don’t share household items, like dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels and pillows.
  • After using these, wash them very well with soap and water, place in the dishwasher for cleaning, or wash in the washing machine.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs and counters.

More information about how to isolate safely in the same household is available at Isolation and Quarantine.

If I’m a close contact of someone who has COVID-19, do my close contacts (e.g. my family, household members, friends I saw before quarantine, etc.) need to quarantine and get tested?

If you are a close contact of a case and don’t have any symptoms and haven’t had a positive COVID-19 test, your close contacts do not need to quarantine.

  • If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, it is recommended that your close contacts quarantine while you wait for your test results.
  • If you test positive, your close contacts will be legally required to quarantine.

Received Multiple Text Messages from AHS

I’ve received multiple text messages from AHS notifying me I am a close contact. Why have I received more than one text?

AHS collects information about each close contact identified by a person with COVID-19 and assesses if the exposure could result in the close contact getting sick. If you are receiving more than one text message that you are a close contact, it means that you have been exposed to more than one person with COVID-19 when they were able to spread disease to others. That is, getting multiple text messages means that you have had multiple exposures to different individuals with COVID-19.

I’ve received two or more text messages from AHS notifying me I am a close contact and need to quarantine. Each message has a different date for when I can stop quarantining. When is my quarantine period over?

If you've received more than one text message that you are a close contact of a person who has COVID-19 and the dates on those two messages are different, you are required to quarantine until the LATEST date you are notified about. Since each text message reflects an exposure to a different case of COVID-19, the date you had exposure can differ.