Information for Close Contacts of a COVID-19 Case

COVID-19

Last Updated: September 24, 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, 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

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.

Who is a household contact of a COVID-19 case?

People who live together are household contacts. So are sexual partners, people who received or provided care and others who are in frequent, long-duration, close-range interaction with the person who tested positive. Household contacts are at increased risk of getting sick with COVID-19 because of the nature of exposure to the person who has COVID-19. Their recommendations 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'm a household contact?

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

  • Monitor for symptoms. If you develop symptoms, isolate and get tested immediately.
  • Follow provincial public health restrictions and any local municipal restrictions.
  • Take additional precautions such as physical distancing, wearing a mask and washing or sanitizing hands often.
  • If you are not fully immunized, you are strongly recommended to stay home. Do not leave home to attend 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 will continue to be exposed for their entire isolation period. You are at risk of developing 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 period.

Please note: Designated support persons and visitors who are not fully immunized against COVID-19 and are a household contact will not be able to enter any AHS or partner facility (unless requiring healthcare services). See ahs.ca/visitation for more information.

What do I do if I'm a close contact (NOT a household contact)?

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

  • Monitor for symptoms. If you develop symptoms, isolate and get tested immediately.
  • Follow provincial public health restrictions and any local municipal restrictions.
  • Take additional precautions such as physical distancing, wearing a mask and washing or sanitizing hands often.
  • If you are not fully immunized, you are also recommended to:
    • avoid public places such as restaurants, sports and recreation activities, social events or other public gatherings (attendance at school or daycare is permitted as long as you do not have symptoms)
    • avoid contact with vulnerable persons such as seniors, immunocompromised individuals and those with chronic health conditions,
    • avoid non-essential visits to hospitals or continuing care facilities.
    • check with your employer regarding any work restrictions

Please note: Designated support persons and visitors who are not fully immunized against COVID-19 and are a close contact will not be able to enter any AHS or partner facility (unless requiring healthcare services). See ahs.ca/visitation for more information.

What do I do  if I am a close contact or a household contact but I have 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 the 14 days following your last close contact with them:

  • Monitor for symptoms. If you develop symptoms, isolate and consult with your health care provider about whether or not you should have COVID-19 testing.
  • Follow provincial public health restrictions and any local municipal restrictions.
  • Take additional precautions such as physical distancing, wearing a mask and washing or sanitizing hands often.

For more information see re-testing guidance.

COVID-19 immunization is recommended for anyone who has previously had COVID-19. Immunization can be given when you have completed your required isolation period and are 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 are able to 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 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.

I attended an event (dinner party, yoga class, wedding, etc.) 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 monitor for symptoms, and to isolate and get tested if they occur.

I attended 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/camp while infectious. What should I do?

We strongly recommend you notify the school/daycare/camp administrator 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 the school/daycare only if a potential outbreak is identified.