• COVID-19 is very easily spread, particularly among households and friends.
  • If you live in the same house or have spent significant time with someone who is a close contact of a person with COVID-19 in the past 3 days, you are a secondary close contact.
  • You need to get tested and isolate until both you and the close contact test negative to COVID-19 and you are completely isolated from the person who is the close contact.
  • If you can't completely isolate from that person, you will need to isolate for 14 days.
  • Thank you for your help. By following these instructions, you are keeping your family and community safe.
Last updated: 21 July 2021
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Close contacts: please provide this fact sheet to your household, close friends and work colleagues.

Who is a secondary close contact?

You are a secondary close contact if you:

  • Live in the same house as a person who is a close contact of a person with COVID-19
  • Have spent significant time with the close contact during the last 3 days.

Please note, people you work with are not automatically considered secondary close contacts unless you know that you have been in significant close proximity to or have spent significant time indoors with the close contact.

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 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 isolate at least until you and the close contact receive a negative result.

If you are a healthcare worker, you will need to speak with your manager and you will need to be risk assessed 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 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 as must as possible. 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 isolation from your close contact since testing, you will no longer need to isolate. If either of you tests positive, then please talk to the public health unit for advice by calling 1300 066 055.

What does isolation mean?

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.

Isolation is different from stay-at-home directions. When you are 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 isolate from a close contact?

If you live with a close contact and are unable to isolate separately from them (e.g. if they are your child or carer and alternative arrangements cannot be made), you will be required to 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.

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 isolation?

If you develop symptoms at any point during 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 isolation?

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

If you develop symptoms at any point after your isolation period, please get tested immediately and 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 home isolation:

Current as at: Wednesday 21 July 2021
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW