Translations of this fact sheet are available in 20 languages including Arabic (العربية), Bangla (বাংলা), Simplified Chinese (简体中文), Traditional Chinese (繁體中文), Dari (دريلو), Dinka (Thuɔŋjäŋ) Farsi (فارسی), Greek (Ελληνικά), Hazaragi (آزرگی‎), Hindi (हिन्दी), Italian (Italiano), Korean (한국어), Nepali (नेपाली), Punjabi (ਪੰਜਾਬੀ, Spanish (Español), Tamil (தமிழ்), Thai (ภาษาไทย), Turkish (Türkçe), Urdu (اُردُو) and Vietnamese (Tiếng Việt Nam). See all translations

Last updated: 05 September 2021
Close contacts: please provide this fact sheet to your household, close friends and work colleagues.
  • COVID-19 is very easily spread, particularly among households and friends.
  • You are a secondary close contact if you have been close to someone who has been exposed to COVID-19.
  • You need to get tested and self-isolate until both you and the close contact test negative to COVID-19 and you are completely self-isolated from the person who is the close contact.
  • If you can't completely self-isolate from that person, you will need to self-isolate for 14 days.
  • Thank you for your help. By following these instructions, you are keeping your family and community safe.

Who is a secondary close contact?

You are a secondary close contact if you have been close to someone since they were exposed to COVID-19. This includes anyone who:

  • Lives in the same home as a close contact of a person with COVID-19
  • Has visited the home of a close contact of a person with COVID-19
  • Has been visited in their home by a close contact of a person with COVID-19
  • Has shared a confined space (such as a car) with a friend who is a close contact of a person with COVID-19.

NSW Health have asked people who have been identified as close contacts to pass this fact sheet on to people who may be secondary close contacts. This fact sheet has instructions for what you need to do to protect yourself and your community.

Do I need to get tested and self-isolate?

If you are a secondary contact, you need to get a COVID-19 test at your closest testing location (even if you don't have symptoms) and self-isolate until you and the close contact receive a negative result.

If you are a healthcare worker who needs to return to work before the close contact receives a negative test result, you will need to speak with your manager for a risk assessment before you return to work.

When you go to get tested, please drive, walk or cycle. You must not travel by public transport, taxi or ride-share. Wear a face mask that covers your nose and mouth at all times, and tell staff immediately that you are a secondary close contact.

If you live with someone who is a close contact, you must self-isolate completely separately from the close contact. You will need to:

  • Remain completely separated from them at all times
  • Stay and sleep in a different room from them
  • Use a separate bathroom (if you only have one bathroom, you must clean the bathroom, including taps, doorknobs, buttons and anything else you may have touched with disinfectant after every use)
  • Not share household items including dishes, cups, towels, bedding, or other items. After using these items, you should wash them thoroughly with soap and water or use a dishwasher/washing machine

Avoid shared/common areas.  If it is unavoidable, ensure that you wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth whenever you must use them (e.g. kitchen, hallway) Any common surfaces in the area (e.g. taps, cupboard, door handles) must be cleaned with disinfectant after use.

If you and the close contact receive a negative test result and you have maintained complete self-isolation from your close contact since testing, you will no longer need to self-isolate. If either of you tests positive, then please talk to the public health unit for advice by calling 1300 066 055.

What does self-isolation mean?

Self-isolation means you must stay at your house or accommodation and remain completely separated from others. You cannot leave your house or accommodation, unless for medical care (including a COVID-19 test), or in an emergency. You cannot allow other people into your house or accommodation unless they usually live at the premises, or they are entering for medical or emergency purposes.

Self-isolation is different from stay-at-home directions. When you are self-isolating, you are not allowed to leave the house for outdoor exercise, shopping, work or education.

Please read the NSW Health Self-Isolation Guideline for further information.

What if I can't self-isolate from a close contact?

The Public Health Unit may be able to arrange somewhere for you to stay if you live with a close contact and are unable to self-isolate separately from them. If this is not suitable (e.g. if they are your child or carer and alternative arrangements cannot be made), you will be required to self-isolate with them for the duration of their quarantine period (14 days from their exposure to a person with COVID-19) and complete further testing.

Self-isolating with a close contact means there is an increased risk of infection, and a possibility that you will have to isolate for a longer period.

What if I develop COVID-19 symptoms or feel unwell during self-isolation?

If you develop symptoms at any point during self-isolation, you should get tested immediately. You must not travel by public transport, taxis or ride-share. Wear a face mask that covers your nose and mouth at all times, and tell staff immediately that you are a secondary close contact of a person identified as a close contact.

Symptoms you should watch carefully for 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.

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

What happens after I leave self-isolation?

You can return to daily activities in line with public health advice.

If you develop symptoms at any point after your self-isolation period, please get tested immediately and self-isolate until you receive a negative result.

You should continue to practice good hygiene and physical distancing to reduce the spread of infection:

  • Stay 1.5 metres away from people you don't live with
  • Wash your hands often for 20 seconds with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser
  • Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes and mouth
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your flexed elbow when coughing or sneezing.
  • Keep up to date with the NSW Government's COVID-19 rules

More information and support

Financial support for individuals and households

If you're affected by COVID-19 and experiencing financial difficulty, please visit the NSW Government website for information on what financial support is available.

For more information and support while in self-isolation:


Current as at: Sunday 5 September 2021
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW