Information for Close Contacts of a COVID-19 Case


Last Updated: April 9, 2021

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

A: You are legally required to quarantine for 14 days from the time you were exposed. This is mandatory under the Public Health Act.

Effective April 8, all close contacts are recommended to be tested twice during their quarantine period.

Book a first COVID-19 test as soon as you receive confirmation that you are a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19. If your first test is negative book a second test 10 days after your last exposure to the confirmed case but before the end of your quarantine period on day 14. If you develop symptoms at any time during your quarantine, you should book a test immediately and continue to stay home.

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

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

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. You could become infectious at any time after that during your quarantine period.

Q: How can I prepare for quarantine?

A: See How to quarantine for details.

Q: I live with someone who has tested positive for a P.1 or B.1.351 COVID-19 variant. What should I do?

A: Even if the P.1 or B.1.351 variant case can isolate at home in a separate room with access to a separate bathroom, this is may not be enough to prevent transmission to other members of the household. Every day the case is isolating at home is considered a new exposure for the household contacts.

If this applies to you, you will be notified by AHS.

Household contacts of these variant cases must quarantine during the case’s isolation period (10 days) plus an additional 14 days after the case’s isolation period ends. Call 211 if you need to access isolation hotels.

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
  • had physical contact with a person who has COVID-19, such as handshake, hugging, kissing, or sexual activity, or
  • shared 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 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: How do I get my results?

A: Result options

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

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

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 & 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 having their test, they are infectious to others for the duration of their symptoms and for at least 10 days from the date of their test, whichever is longer. For most people, this is until 10 days after the start of their symptoms. See Isolation & Quarantine for more information.

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

A: 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.

Q: 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?

A: 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.