A casual contact is someone who has been near a confirmed case of COVID-19 while they were infectious but has been assessed as lower risk than a close contact. Some casual contacts however may have a higher risk of infection associated with an exposure, these people are asked to get tested immediately and isolate until a negative test result is received. People with a lower risk of exposure are only asked to monitor for symptoms.

Casual contacts might have been in a closed space at the same time as an identified case, but for shorter periods than those required for a close contact. Settings for casual contacts may include healthcare facilities, schools, public transport, public places, businesses or offices.

NSW Health assesses settings and interactions to determine the level of risk of transmission. If you have been identified as a casual contact, you will be notified by text message (if you have provided your contact details to a contact tracing app) . If you think you are a casual contact you will need to check the case locations and alerts webpage. You will be informed as to whether you need to get tested immediately and self-isolate until you receive a negative result, or if you need to monitor for symptoms and self-isolate and get tested if symptoms develop.  All casual contacts need to be vigilant and watch for symptoms for up to 14 days after your last casual contact with the person with COVID-19.

Last updated: 25 December 2020

Do I need to self-isolate and get tested?

If you are a casual contact that needs to 'get tested immediately':

You should get tested as soon as possible and isolate in your home or another suitable place of residence until you receive your result. You can leave isolation if you receive a negative result (do not have the virus). You should still be vigilant and watch for symptoms after you have received your results. 

If you are a casual contact that needs to 'monitor for symptoms':

You do not need to get tested and self-isolate. 

Do I monitor for symptoms?

All casual contacts should monitor for symptoms for 14 days after your last casual contact with the person with COVID-19

Symptoms to look out for include:

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

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

What do I do if I develop symptoms?

If symptoms develop you should get tested immediately:

You should travel directly to the doctor or COVID-19 clinic by foot (where practical) or private car, and wear a mask. NSW Health advises you not to use public transport.

You need to remain isolated until you receive a negative test result, for further information see the advice in the home isolation guidance for people suspected to have COVID-19 infection.


If you become severely unwell and it's a medical emergency you should phone 000. Tell the ambulance staff that you are a casual contact of a person with COVID-19.

Current as at: Friday 25 December 2020
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW