COVID-19 close contacts

A close contact is:

  • a household member or intimate partner of a person with COVID-19 who has had contact with them during their infectious period,
  • someone who has had close personal interaction with a person with COVID-19 during their infectious period, where they spent 4 hours of cumulative contact with them in a residential setting (including a home, residential care facility, boarding school, maritime vessel or other accommodation facility) in any 24-hour period where masks have been removed by both people during the period of contact
  • someone who is informed by WA Health that they are a close contact.

Free RATs are available for close contacts. Close contacts with no symptoms can leave their place of isolation provided they undertake a daily RAT, wear a mask at all times outside the home, and avoid high-risk settings. Collection locations are available at wa.gov.au (external site).

Recovered case

Someone is not considered a close contact if they have recovered from COVID-19 and are exposed to a case within 4 weeks of completing isolation.

Infectious period

The infectious period is taken from 48 hours before onset of symptoms, or 48 hours before the positive test result if they do not have symptoms, until the end of their isolation period. For example, if they first tested positive on Wednesday afternoon, their infectious period started on Monday afternoon.

What to do if you're a close contact

Close contacts must isolate for 5 complete days (5 x 24 hours) from the time they became a close contact.

The 5-day close contact isolation period.

  • For household contacts: it begins from  the time the positive case took their test, regardless of whether more household members test positive during their isolation
  • For other close contacts: the last time they had contact with the person who tested positive

For example, if you became a close contact at 11.45pm on Monday 12 September 2022, your close contact isolation period will not finish until 11.45pm on Saturday 17 September 2022.

You should notify your employer or educational institution that you are a close contact.

Close contacts with no symptoms

Close contacts with no symptoms must isolate for 5 complete days (5 x 24 hours).

Testing

You must take a PCR test on Day 4 or RAT on Day 5

Leaving isolation

Close contacts with no symptoms may leave isolation, provided they have met certain conditions.

Close contacts with no symptoms must:

  • obtain a negative result from a rapid antigen test taken on each day they propose to leave isolation
  • be able to provide photographic evidence of a negative result from a rapid antigen test taken on that day, if asked
  • wear a mask including from when they leave isolation until they return
  • not enter high-risk settings, including hospitals, healthcare settings, and disability, mental health and aged care residential facilities, for 7 days after they become a close contact (the 5-day isolation period and for two days after completing isolation)

If you work in a high-risk setting, you can attend work if you have received written or oral confirmation from your employer and meet other requirements.

Close contacts with no symptoms are strongly encouraged to:

  • avoid non-essential gatherings and contact with people at risk of severe illness
  • work from home, where possible
  • wear a mask in indoor settings outside the home for two days after the isolation period ends (Day 6 and 7).

Close contacts with symptoms

Close contacts with symptoms must continue to isolate until symptoms resolve and follow the additional requirements below, even if they have finished the minimum 5-day isolation period.

  • Take a PCR or RAT as soon as you develop symptoms
  • If the RAT returns a negative result, repeat the test 24 hours later
  • If a close contact tests positive, they must isolate for 5 days after their positive test result and follow the requirements for positive COVID-19 cases.
  • If your PCR test or your first RAT was on Day 5, you must continue to isolate until you are informed that the PCR returned a negative result or until your second RAT returns a negative result
  • If your PCR or second RAT was negative prior to Day 4, you must still take a PCR test on Day 4 or RAT on Day 5.

  • Close contacts with symptoms must continue to isolate until symptoms resolve
  • Once symptoms have resolved, close contacts who are not cases should follow the protocols for close contacts with no symptoms (see above) for the balance of the 5-day isolation period 
Workers in high-risk settings

Close contacts with no symptoms who work in a high-risk setting may enter a high-risk setting to attend work with the following requirements.

You must:

  • advise your employer that you are a close contact, and receive confirmation from your employer that the employer agrees to you attending work
  • be fully vaccinated
  • return a daily negative RAT prior to leaving home
  • actively monitor for symptoms
  • leave the workplace and return home immediately if you develop symptoms or test positive
  • only remain at the high-risk setting for the purpose of your work duties
  • wear a surgical mask at minimum (or another mask as required by workplace)
  • not share break areas with any other person at the high-risk setting
  • use reasonable endeavours to maintain a physical distance of 1.5m from other people in the workplace.

*High-risk settings include aged care facilities, residential care facilities (including disability care and mental health residential facilities) and health care settings.

Health care settings include any health facility where health care is delivered to patients face-to-face (including public and private hospitals, ambulance and patient transport services, primary health clinics, specialist outpatient services, day procedure centres and allied health services).

Further information

Last reviewed: 27-09-2022