This fact sheet is for parents or carers of someone who needs to isolate due to COVID-19. This could be someone who is a confirmed case, close, or secondary close or a casual contact or someone with COVID-19 symptoms awaiting test results.

If someone is required to isolate as they are a confirmed case or casual contact, their isolation is enforceable under the Public Health Order


Last updated: 16 July 2021
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Does the person I care for need to self-isolate?

If the person you care for has COVID-19 symptoms, has been tested for COVID-19 or has been identified as a confirmed case, close, secondary close or casual contact, they will need to isolate.

If you are caring for someone who needs to isolate, you will need to isolate with them.

If you have been identified as a confirmed COVID-19 case or contact, and you need to continue caring for someone that frmo whom you cannot isolate from, they will need to follow the same isolation requirements as you.

Do others in the household need to isolate?

The need for others in your household to isolate along with you will depend on whether the person you care for is symptomatic or is a case or contact.

  • If the person you care for is a confirmed case, it is likely all members of the household will need to isolate as they will have had close contact with the person who is infectious. You will be contacted by an authorised contact tracer who will tell you how long you need to isolate. After you care for someone who has tested positive to COVID-19 (infectious person) you will need to continue to isolate for a further 14 days after the person you care for has been released from isolation.
  • If the person you care for is a close contact, you and anyone else providing care for that person will need to isolate with that person until the end of that person’s isolation period. The members of your household who are not directly involved in their care are secondary close contacts. They need to isolate until both they and the person you care for have received negative results from their COVID-19 tests. If you are able to isolate you and the person who you care for from others in your home, the others will not need to continue to isolate with you.
  • If the person you care for has been notified as a casual contact or they have COVID-19 symptoms, you and anyone else providing care for that person will need to isolate with them until they receive a negative test result. Others in your home will not need to isolate with you.

How should we isolate?

  • Do not leave your home, hotel or other accommodation, unless for urgent medical care, or in an emergency (including to avoid injury or escape risk of harm from domestic violence). If you leave home for these reasons you must wear a face mask, stay 1.5m away from anyone else, and travel directly to and from the location back to your home, accommodation or alternative accommodation in the case of an emergency.
  • Do not go to work, school, childcare or public areas and do not use public transport or ride share
  • Do not have visitors
  • You can go into your private garden, balcony or courtyard if you have one
  • Practice good hygiene:
    • Cover coughs and sneezes
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. You can also use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser. Wash your hands:
      • before entering an area where there are other people
      • before touching things used by other people
      • after using the bathroom
      • after coughing or sneezing
      • before putting on, and after removing, gloves and masks.
    • Clean all surfaces you touch often (counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables) at least once a day wearing disposable gloves. After cleaning apply a household disinfectant or diluted bleach solution.
    • Ask your family or friends to pick up groceries and medicines for you, or order online or by telephone. If you still need help with obtaining food and essential supplies, call your local Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055.

How should we isolate from others in the home?

Your Public Health Unit can discuss your living arrangements and whether you and the person you care for can effectively isolate from other people in your household. They will also check if there is anyone in your household who is at greater risk of illness, such as someone who is elderly or immunosuppressed. If you live with people who work in a high-risk setting, refer to the advice for households of people working in a high-risk setting.

If you can’t effectively isolate, alternative accommodation for you or your household can be arranged. If you and the person you care for can effectively isolate from the people you live with, at all times you will need to:

  • remain separated from the other people in the home
  • stay and sleep in a different room to the others
  • use a separate bathroom to the others, if available (otherwise clean it after every use)
  • wear a mask when you are in the same room as another person (even if the other person is also in isolation)
  • not share household items, including dishes, cups, towels, or bedding. After using these items, you should wash them thoroughly with soap and water, or use a dishwasher/washing machine
  • avoid shared areas and wear a mask when moving through these areas (children under 12 years of age do not need to wear a mask).

What if we cannot isolate from others in the household?

It is important to separate someone who tested positive to COVID-19 (infectious person) from others in your home, even if they are also isolating as close contacts. However, it may not be possible to separate them from their primary care giver or others in the household due to their age or other reasons. When someone in your home has tested positive to COVID-19 (infectious person), your whole household will need to continue to isolate for a further 14 days after the last person infected has been released from isolation.Please speak to your local Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055 for assistance if you are having trouble isolating the other people in your home from the person who tested positive to COVID-19. The Public Health Unit can arrange alternative accommodation if this is needed.

Any household members who are not able to isolate from a close or casual contact will need to isolate at home until the contact is allowed to leave isolation. Please call your local Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055 to discuss your circumstances.

Does my child need to wear a mask?

Not all age groups can use masks effectively and it may not be safe for all children. It is not necessary for children under 12 years of age to wear a mask;. Parents may assist children in this age group with hand hygiene. Teenagers over 12 years of age who are able to wear masks should do so when they are with others. For further advice, please see the latest advice on face masks.

Other people in the household should wear a mask whenever they are in contact with your child, whether your child is wearing a mask or not. If your child is unable to isolate, please request advice from your local public health unit on 1300 066 055.

What if my child does not live in the same household as their parents or siblings?

NSW Health strongly recommends postponing travel between households by children, if someone in either household has been identified as a case, a close or secondary close or casual contact. The Delta strain is highly infectious and many household close contacts develop the infection. Where possible, NSW Health recommends that children travel after their family members’ have completed their isolation periods and have received a negative test result.

You should apply the same COVID-19 isolation guidelines to both households in circumstances where travel between households cannot be postponed. In these circumstance members of both households must get tested and isolate at home for the same periods.

Please call your local Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055 if you are unsure about the isolation requirements for your family.

What if the person I care for develops COVID-19 symptoms?

If the person you care for develops symptoms at any point during isolation, get them tested immediately. You must not travel by public transport or ride-share. Wear face masks and tell staff immediately that they are a close contact of a person with COVID-19.

Symptoms for which you should watch carefully are:

  • fever (37.5°C or higher) or history of fever (night sweats, chills)
  • cough
  • runny nose
  • shortness of breath (difficulty breathing)
  • sore throat
  • loss of smell
  • loss of taste

Other symptoms of COVID-19 can include an acute blocked nose (congestion), fatigue, muscle pain, joint pain, headache, diarrhoea, nausea/vomiting, loss of appetite, unexplained chest pain and conjunctivitis.

What do I do if the person I care for needs medical attention?

If the person you care for becomes severely unwell and it is a medical emergency, you should phone Triple Zero (000). Tell the ambulance staff that you are a contact of someone with COVID-19.

If non-emergency medical attention is required, call ahead to your health care provider to let them know that the person you care for has been identified as a COVID-19 case or contact.

Someone has tested positive for COVID-19 at my childs school/childcare and my child has not been identified as a close contact

The Public Health Unit, or the school or childcare will provide advice about what you need to do if a case of COVID-19 was identified at your child’s school or childcare on a day that they attended.

Monitor your child for symptoms and, if symptoms develop, get them tested immediately. You must not travel by public transport or ride-share. Wear face masks and tell staff immediately that a person at their school has tested positive for COVID-19.

If your child is tested for COVID-19, they should isolate at home and not attend school or childcare until they receive a negative test result.

Examples of different scenarios

Scenario 1 – family not able to isolate within the household

Meg has three children: a daughter aged 2 years old who goes to childcare and two sons aged 6 and 8 years who go to primary school. The childcare centre has told Meg that there has been a confirmed case of COVID-19 at the childcare centre. The Public Health Unit rang Meg to let her know that her 2 year old daughter is considered to be a close contact and must get tested and isolate for 14 days.

Meg took her daughter immediately to get tested at the local clinic, and told the staff that her daughter had been identified as a close contact.

They then returned home to isolate for the 14 day period. Because her children are so young, Meg decided that she would allow her daughter and sons to continue having contact at home. This meant that Meg and her sons also had to stay home and not go to school during her daughter’s 14 day isolation period.

On day 12 of the isolation period, Meg took her daughter to have another test and received a negative result. After day 14, the isolation period ended and Meg’s daughter and sons returned to childcare and school. Meg and her sons did not need to be tested as they had remained well and Meg’s daughter had tested negative.

Scenario 2 – family able to isolate within the household

Chau and Thuan have two children: a son aged 13 years old and a daughter (Amy) aged 17 years old. Both attend the same high school. A friend of their daughter at school was diagnosed with COVID-19 and their daughter is considered a close contact and must get tested and isolate for 14 days. Their son did not have contact with the daughter’s friend who is the case. Chau, Thuan and their son are all considered secondary close contacts and need to get tested.

Chau went immediately with Amy to the local testing clinic as they both needed to get COVID-19 tests. Chau told the clinic staff that Amy had been identified as a close contact and that Chau was a secondary close contact. Thuan separately took their son to the clinic, and both were also tested as secondary close contacts.

After speaking to the Public Health Unit, Chau and Thuan decided that as their children are older and the house is large enough, they would isolate their daughter Amy from the rest of the family for the 14-day isolation period in their home. Chau and Thuan and their son waited at home until they and Amy received negative test results. Then they returned to school and work.

On day 7 and 12 of her isolation period, Amy went with her dad to get another COVID-19 test. Later she received a negative test result. After day 14, Amy’s isolation period ended and she returned to school.

Where can I find more information or support?

More information for parents and carers is available from:

Several services are available if you need mental wellbeing support or more information:


Current as at: Friday 16 July 2021
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW