Information for Close Contacts of a COVID-19 Case

COVID-19

Last Updated: December 21, 2020

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

A: Because you are a close contact of a person with COVID-19 you are legally required to quaratine for 14 days from the time you were exposed. This is mandatory under the Public Health Act.

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

A: 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
  • has had direct contact with bodily fluids of a person who has COVID-19 (e.g., was coughed or sneezed on), or
  • provided direct care for a person who has COVID-19, or
  • has physical contact with a person who has COVID-19, such as handshake, hugging, kissing, or sexual activity, or
  • shares items with a person who has COVID-19 such as drinks, personal hygiene items, cigarettes, vapes, lipstick, eating utensils, etc.

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 non-medical 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.

Q: Should I get tested if I am a close contact?

A: Yes, since you have been told that you’re a close contact, Public Health recommends that you are tested for COVID-19. Complete the COVID-19 Self-Assessment. You are required to quarantine for the full 14 days, even if your test comes back negative. Refer to Advice for People Tested for COVID-19.

Q: How do I get my results?

A: Result options.

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

A: Yes. On the day you were tested, there may not have been enough virus in your body, for the test to pick up. Quarantining for a full 14 days ensures that there is no virus in your system and therefore you won’t continue to spread it.

Q: How can I prepare for quarantine?

A: How to quarantine.

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

A: You will want to do all of the above, as well as taking these other precautions:

  • 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.

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

A: COVID-19 symptoms.

Q: What exemptions are there to mandatory quarantine?

A: Quarantine exemptions.

Q: 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?

A:

  • 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 contacts quarantine while you wait for your test results.
  • If you test positive, your close contacts will be legally required to quarantine.
  • If you have more questions, please visit www.alberta.ca/coronavirus

Q: I am COVID-19 positive and one of my close contact works in:

  • Health Care
  • A school setting
  • A group home, disability support and shelter workers; and,
  • A Correctional facility staff, working in either a provincial or federal facility.

A: Individuals with COVID-19 symptoms who work in the following above roles are encouraged to use the self-assessment tool to help determine whether they need to be tested for COVID-19.

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

A: 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 and Quarantine for more information.

For a person with COVID-19 who had no symptoms when they were tested, the infectious period is 48 hours 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 having their test, they are infectious to others for the duration of their symptoms. For most people, this is until 10 days after the start of their symptoms. See Isolation and Quarantine for more information.

Q: I have been sent multiple AHS text messages notifying me I am a close contact. Why have I had more than one text sent to me?

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

Q: I have been sent two or more AHS text message notifications that I am a close contact and need to quarantine, but each message has a different date for when I can stop quarantining. When is my quarantine period over?

A: If you are the recipient of more than one text notification that you are a close contact of a person who has COVID-19 and the dates on those two notifications 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.