How personal information related to COVID-19, collected through case interviews and contact tracing, is used and disclosed by NSW Health.

NSW Health collects information about COVID-19 cases and contacts through case interviews and contact tracing. This information is considered health information and is subject to the Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002 (NSW) (HRIP Act). The HRIP Act requires information to be used or disclosed only for the purpose for which it was received or for another permitted secondary purpose. The HRIP Act permits sharing of personal information if it is necessary to lessen or prevent a serious threat to public health.

Purpose of collection of information by NSW Health

Information collected from positive cases and contacts is collected for the purpose of contact tracing. Contact tracing reduces the spread of COVID-19, by identifying close and casual contacts, and workplaces and venues where exposures have occurred.

Sharing of information with Service NSW

NSW Health routinely shares limited information about cases with Service NSW for the purposes of contact tracing via the Service NSW Check-in app. Service NSW uses this information to notify people who checked in to the same venue as a positive case and may have been exposed to COVID-19.

Release of information to close contacts

In most circumstances, close contacts will not be provided with the name of the positive case. Close contacts will be notified of their close contact status and the actions they need to take to protect their family and the community. The name of the case will only be released if there is no other way to provide the relevant information to individual contacts.

NSW Health will only release personal information of positive cases to a contact of the positive case in exceptional circumstances when there is no other way to provide the necessary information. Consent to release identifying information will usually be sought.

In some circumstances, workplaces will be contacted to help with the identification of contacts and to allow the workplace to take action to minimise the risk to their staff and patrons. Where it is necessary to identify the case, NSW Health will endeavour to inform the positive case and ensure that the workplace understands that the details of the worker should remain confidential.

Release of information to schools

Where there are cases in schools, it is likely that the school will be required to help with the identification of contacts and to minimise the risk to students, staff and families.

Department of Education staff have been made authorised contact tracers to allow them to carry out contract tracing functions when a case occurs in a school.

As school staff will often be supporting close contact tracing, it is necessary to release the name of the positive case to school management. Where it is necessary to identify the case, the school will be asked to keep the details of the case confidential and to not identify the case to the community.

Use and disclosure of information for other purposes

NSW Health may use and disclose contact tracing information for secondary purposes permitted by the Health Records and Information Privacy Act. This includes using and disclosing the information to lessen or prevent a serious risk to public health or public safety and using the information for internal management, planning, evaluation and training purposes related to the contact tracing program. NSW Health may disclose information outside of NSW Health if the law allows or requires your information to be disclosed, for example to comply with a subpoena if your information is required as evidence in court.

The Public Health (COVID-19 General) Order 2021, includes provisions to allow the sharing of information between government agencies when necessary to protect the health or welfare of members of the public. NSW Health will only disclose the identity of the case to another government agency when required to protect public health.

If you have any issues with how your information has been released

If you have concerns about how your information has been released, you can contact the Information and Privacy Commission of New South Wales for further advice.

Current as at: Friday 12 November 2021
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW