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Last updated: 26 May 2020 at 4.40pm

If you test positive for coronavirus we will ask you about other people you've been in close contact with. We will also do this if it is likely that you have coronavirus but have not yet had a test.

This is 'contact tracing'. The people who do this work are 'contact tracers'.

Why we do it

Contact tracing identifies the people we need to contact. For example, family members, friends, colleagues or fellow travellers.

We do this to see who else is at risk of catching the virus. This means we can give them advice on what to do if they develop symptoms. This is done to try to reduce the spread of coronavirus in the community.

How we do it

A contact tracer will call you and ask for contact details for any of the close contacts you have.

We only ask about people and places you have visited close to the time you developed symptoms.

We do not ask about people you may have passed by on the street or in a shop. In these situations, the risk is very low.

Calls from contact tracers

Calls from contact tracers come up as a private number.

You can’t contact a contact tracer directly or return a missed call.

You may need extra help with the call. For example, if English is not your first language or if you are unwell. You can give us the name and number of a person who can take the call on your behalf. If you mention this when you are being tested, we can take their details.

Questions a contact tracer will ask your close contacts

The contact tracers will:

  • confirm the person's name and address
  • ask about symptoms
  • ask for the name and phone numbers of their close contacts, if necessary
  • arrange a coronavirus test for them

If your close contacts don't answer the call, the contact tracer will leave a message, if voice mail is working. They will let them know that they have tried to contact the person. They will call them a few times if necessary.

Contact tracing is confidential. Anyone we contact will not know it was you who gave us their contact details.

Testing close contacts

All close contacts of a confirmed case of coronavirus will be tested for coronavirus even if they don’t have symptoms. They will also be advised to restrict their movements for 14 days.

During this time close contacts will be actively monitored by the contact tracing team. They will text or phone to monitor any symptoms if they arise.

If you are an essential healthcare worker, ring your line manager and occupational health department immediately to get advice. Do not go to work until you have spoken to them.

Read more about testing for coronavirus.

Second tests

It can take up to 14 days for the virus to show up in your system after you have been exposed to it. This is why some people may need a second coronavirus test about a week after the first one. A contact tracer will arrange a second test if needed.

Restricted movements

You will have to restrict your movements for 14 days even if your test comes back negative. This is because it can take up to 14 days for the virus to show up in your system after you have been exposed to it.

After 14 days you will be able to return to normal activities while sticking to the stay at home advice everyone should follow.

Read more about restricted movements for close contacts.