Information for Close Contacts of a COVID-19 Case

COVID-19

Last Updated: December 7, 2021

Who Is a Close Contact| What to Do if You’re a Close Contact| Additional Resources

Who Is a Close Contact

Who Is a Close Contact of a COVID-19 Case?

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

  • lived with or was within two metres of a person who has COVID-19 for 15 minutes or more of cumulative contact over a 24 hour period, (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 – for example shared items such as drinks, personal hygiene items, cigarettes, vapes, lipstick, eating utensils, 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

Anyone who is in 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 that person had enough protection from a potential COVID-19 exposure. This is determined by a professional who specializes in infection prevention and control.

Who Is a Household Contact of a COVID-19 Case?

People are household contacts with the person who tested positive if they:

  • live together
  • are sexual partners
  • received or provided care
  • are physically close together, often and for a long time

Household contacts are at higher risk of getting sick with COVID-19 because of how much and what kind of contact they have with the person who has COVID-19. Their recommendations for household contacts are different than other close contacts. See What do I do if I'm a household contact?

What to Do if You’re a Close Contact

What Do I Do If I’ve Been Notified By AHS that I’m A Close Contact of Someone Who Has Recently Travelled Outside of Canada or is Strongly Suspected or Confirmed to Have the Omicron Variant of Concern?

  • Book a COVID-19 test right away.
  • Watch for symptoms. If you develop symptoms, isolate and get tested right away.
  • If you’re not fully immunized for COVID-19 we strongly recommend you stay home and avoid going to public places until at least 14 days after your last close contact with the person with COVID-19.
  • AHS may give you instructions that are specific to you or your child. Follow specific direction given to you by AHS. You could be notified by a phone call, letter, or text message.
  • Take extra precautions such as physical distancing, wearing a mask and washing or sanitizing your hands often.
  • Learn more about variants at AHS and Alberta Health.

What Do I Do if I’m a Household Contact?

During the time you're exposed to the confirmed COVID-19 case and for 14 days after your last close contact with them:

  • Watch for symptoms. If you develop symptoms, isolate and get tested right away.
  • Follow provincial public health restrictions and any local municipal restrictions.
  • Take extra precautions such as physical distancing, wearing a mask and washing or sanitizing your hands often.
  • If you're not fully immunized, you are strongly recommended to stay home. Do not leave home to go to work, school, social events or any other public gatherings.

If you live with a person who has COVID-19 and they are not able to completely isolate away from you, you'll continue to be exposed for their entire isolation period. You're at risk of getting COVID-19 during their isolation period and for 14 days after their last day of isolation. You should follow the above recommendations for this entire time.

Please note: If you’re a household contact and you’re not fully immunized against COVID-19, you won’t be able to enter any AHS or partner facility as a designated support person or a visitor. You’ll only be able to enter if you need healthcare services. See ahs.ca/visitation for more information.

What Do I Do if I’m a Close Contact (Not a Household Contact)?

For 14 days following your last close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case:

  • Watch for symptoms. If you develop symptoms, isolate and get tested right away.
  • Follow provincial public health restrictions and any local municipal restrictions.
  • Take extra precautions such as physical distancing, wearing a mask and washing or sanitizing your hands often.
  • If you're not fully immunized, you are also recommended to:
    • avoid public places such as restaurants, sports and recreation activities, social events or other public gatherings – you can go to school or daycare as long as you do not have symptoms
    • avoid contact with vulnerable people such as seniors, people with weak immune systems and those with chronic health conditions,
    • avoid non-essential visits to hospitals or continuing care facilities.
    • check with your employer about any work restrictions

If you’re a close contact and you’re not fully immunized against COVID-19, you won’t be able to enter any AHS or partner facility as a designated support person or a visitor. You’ll only be able to enter if you need healthcare services. See ahs.ca/visitation for more information.

What Do I Do if I’m a Close Contact or a Household Contact, but I’ve Tested Positive for COVID-19 in the Past 90 Days?

If you had COVID-19 in the last 90 days, and have recovered, you do not need to stay home unless you develop symptoms.

During the time you are exposed to the confirmed COVID-19 case and for 14 days after your last close contact with them:

  • Watch for symptoms. If you develop symptoms, isolate and talk to your healthcare provider about whether or not you should have a COVID-19 test.
  • Follow provincial public health restrictions and any local municipal restrictions.
  • Take extra precautions such as physical distancing, wearing a mask, and washing or sanitizing hands often.

For more information see Re-testing Advice.

COVID-19 immunization is recommended for anyone who has previously had COVID-19. You can get your immunization when your isolation period is over and you’re feeling better.

Can I Be a Designated Support Person or Visitor of a Patient Who Is at End-Of-Life if I Have Been a Close Contact of a Person With COVID-19?

All designated support persons and visitors are screened for being close contacts before they can enter an AHS or partner facility. For more information on entry requirements for designated support persons and visitors, please see our section on screening and orientation at ahs.ca/visitation.

What Are the Symptoms of COVID-19?

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 symptoms started 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 don't develop any symptoms).

  • If the person develops symptoms after getting a test, they are considered infectious for the rest of the time they have symptoms, or for at least 10 days, whichever is longer.
  • See Isolation & Quarantine for more information.

I Attended an Event (Such as a Dinner Party, Yoga Class, Wedding) While I Was Infectious. What Should I Do?

You are not required to notify the organizer of the event. However, we strongly recommend you notify your close contacts and advise them to watch for symptoms, and to isolate and get tested if they occur.

I Went to Work While I Was Infectious. What Should I Do?

We strongly recommend you notify your employer so others who are sick or at risk of getting sick are aware. There is no legal obligation for you to share this information. AHS will follow up with your workplace only if a potential outbreak is identified.

My Child Was at School, Daycare, or Camp While Infectious. What Should I Do?

We strongly recommend you notify the school, daycare, or camp administrator so others who are sick or at risk of getting sick are aware. AHS will follow up with your child's school if they attended while they were infectious. AHS will follow up with your child’s daycare only if a potential outbreak is identified.