If you are a close contact of COVID-19

If you are a close contact of a person that tests positive for COVID-19 (coronavirus), there's a chance that you may have COVID-19 too. Follow the advice on this page to lower the risk of spreading the virus.

Information:

There is separate advice if your child is a close contact.

What close contact means

When you have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, you will get a text from the HSE to let you know that you are a close contact.

You could have been in contact with a positive case:

  • in your home (sometimes called a 'household close contact')
  • outside your home (sometimes called a 'non-household close contact' or ‘community close contact’)

The advice on this page is the same for both household and non-household close contacts but varies depending on your situation.

What's a non-household close contact?

You are a non-household close contact if you and someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 have been within 2 metres of each other for more than 15 minutes in total in 1 day.

When someone tests positive for COVID-19, their close contacts include people they were in close contact with in the:

  • 48-hour period before they developed symptoms
  • 24-hour period before their test, if they did not have symptoms

It does not include people they saw briefly. For example talking to someone for a few minutes more than 2 metres apart.

What's a household close contact?

You are a household close contact if you:

  • live or sleep in the same home as a person who has tested positive
  • use a kitchen or bathroom in shared accommodation with a person who has tested positive
  • are a sexual partner of a person who has tested positive

What to do if you are a close contact

For all close contacts 13 and older, follow the advice on this page that matches your situation.

Close contacts under 13 should follow different advice.

Close contacts living with or caring for someone who cannot isolate should also follow different advice.

Your situation

You will see the terms 'booster dose' and 'first round of COVID-19 vaccination' mentioned. If you're not sure what they mean, read these explainers first:

What do ‘booster dose’ and ‘first round of COVID-19 vaccination’ mean?

Booster dose

A ‘booster dose’ is the extra dose of COVID-19 vaccine used to give better protection to people who have already had their first round of COVID-19 vaccination.

Booster vaccines are currently only available to people aged 16 or older.

First round of COVID-19 vaccination

When we say ‘first round of COVID-19 vaccination’ we mean your dose 1 and dose 2 if you got AstraZeneca, Moderna or Pfizer. Or your single dose if you got the Janssen vaccine.

Children aged 5 and older can now get a COVID-19 vaccine.

If you have a weak immune system, you should have been offered an ‘additional dose’ to give you better protection. This is because your immune system may not respond as well to vaccination. You will still need a booster dose after this additional dose.

How long does it take COVID-19 vaccines to work?

For your booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine it takes 7 days for it to work.

For your first round of COVID-19 vaccination it takes:

  • 7 days after your second Pfizer/BioNTech dose for it to work
  • 15 days after your second AstraZeneca dose for it to work
  • 14 days after your second Moderna dose for it to work
  • 14 days after the Janssen single dose vaccine for it to work
I got my booster more than 7 days ago

Here's what you need to do if you are a close contact who got their booster dose more than 7 days ago.

Information:

If you had a positive COVID-19 antigen or PCR test since 1 December 2021, you do not have to restrict your movements. You do not need to get tested unless you develop symptoms.

Testing

You need to do 3 antigen tests over 7 days.

Do the:

  • first test as soon as you can get an antigen test
  • second test 3 days after your first test
  • third test on the 7th day

Watch a video on how to do an antigen test

If any of your antigen tests are positive, you need to report your positive antigen test result online and list your close contacts. You do not need to do another antigen test. Do not book a PCR test.

You should also report negative antigen results online. This helps us learn more about antigen testing.

A negative antigen test does not mean that you do not have COVID-19.

If you have an invalid test result, do another antigen test.

Restricted movements

You do not need to restrict your movements.

Face mask

Wear a medical or respirator face mask if you have to be around other people.

Do this for 10 days starting from when you:

  • last had contact with the person who tested positive, or
  • were told you were a close contact by the HSE

Read about types of face masks and when to wear them

Information:

Living with someone who cannot isolate

If you are a close contact of someone who cannot isolate and you are living with them, you may be at greater risk of getting COVID-19. This is because you may be exposed to the virus regularly.

Follow separate advice for close contacts of people who cannot isolate.

People who have COVID-19 who sometimes cannot isolate may include young children, older people or someone with a disability.

I got my first round of COVID-19 vaccination and had COVID-19 in the past 3 months

Here's what you need to do if you are a close contact who got their first round of COVID-19 vaccination and had a positive COVID-19 antigen or PCR test in the past 3 months.

Information:

If you had a positive COVID-19 antigen or PCR test since 1 December 2021, you do not have to restrict your movements. You do not need to get tested unless you develop symptoms.

Testing

You need to do 3 antigen tests over 7 days.

Do the:

  • first test as soon as you can get an antigen test
  • second test 3 days after your first test
  • third test on the 7th day

Watch a video on how to do an antigen test

If any of your antigen tests are positive, you need to report your positive antigen test result and list your close contacts. You do not need to do another antigen test. Do not book a PCR test.

You should also report negative antigen results online. This helps us learn more about antigen testing.

A negative antigen test does not mean you do not have COVID-19.

If you have an invalid test result, do another antigen test.

Restricted movements

You do not need to restrict your movements.

Face mask

Wear a medical or respirator face mask when you are around other people.

Do this for 10 days starting from when you:

  • last had contact with the person who tested positive, or
  • were told you were a close contact by the HSE

Read about types of face masks and when to wear them

Information:

Living with someone who cannot isolate

If you are a close contact of someone who cannot isolate and you are living with them, you may be at greater risk of getting COVID-19. This is because you may be exposed to the virus regularly.

Follow separate advice for close contacts of people who cannot isolate.

People who have COVID-19 who sometimes cannot isolate may include young children, older people or someone with a disability.

I have symptoms of COVID-19

Here's what you need to do if you are a close contact who has symptoms of COVID-19. This advice is the same for everyone who has symptoms, not just close contacts.

Do this even if you tested positive for COVID-19 recently.

Testing

You need to get tested for COVID-19.

Find out what type of test you should get

If you are a close contact but you do not have symptoms, follow the testing advice in the text message you get from the HSE as part of contact tracing.

Self-isolation

You need to self-isolate (stay in your room).

You should start self-isolating as soon as you notice symptoms of COVID-19.

How long you need to self-isolate depends on the results of your test.

Find out what to do if you get a:

Face mask

Wear a medical or respirator face mask unless you are alone.

Do this for 10 days starting from when you:

  • last had contact with the person who tested positive, or
  • were told you were a close contact by the HSE

If you are self-isolating, you should stay in your room and avoid contact with other people.

If you end self-isolation after 7 days, it's important to continue to wear a medical or respirator face mask for 3 days after ending self-isolation when you are with other people.

Read about types of face masks and when to wear them

I don't see my situation here

If you are a close contact but you cannot see advice that matches your situation on this page, follow this advice.

This could be if you had:

  • no COVID-19 vaccination
  • your booster less than 7 days ago or did not get a booster
  • your first round of COVID-19 vaccination but tested positive more than 3 months ago or have never had COVID

Testing

You need to do 3 antigen tests over 7 days.

Do the:

  • first test as soon as you can get an antigen test
  • second test 3 days after your first test
  • third test on the 7th day

Watch a video on how to do an antigen test

If any of your antigen tests are positive, you need to report your positive antigen test result and list your close contacts. You do not need to do any more antigen tests. Do not book a PCR test.

You should also report negative antigen results online. This helps us learn more about antigen testing.

A negative antigen test does not mean that you do not have COVID-19.

If you have an invalid test result, do another antigen test.

Restricted movements

You need to restrict your movements (stay at home) for 7 days.

Do this from the date you:

  • last had contact with the person who tested positive, if you know this, or
  • were notified by the HSE that you are a close contact

Face mask

Wear a medical or respirator face mask when you are around other people.

Do this for 10 days starting from when you:

  • last had contact with the person who tested positive, or
  • were told you were a close contact by the HSE

Read about types of face masks and when to wear them

Information:

Living with someone who cannot isolate

If you are a close contact of someone who cannot isolate and you are living with them, you may be at greater risk of getting COVID-19. This is because you may be exposed to the virus regularly.

Follow separate advice for close contacts of people who cannot isolate.

People who have COVID-19 who sometimes cannot isolate may include young children, older people or someone with a disability.

I know I am a close contact but I have not been contacted by the HSE yet

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you need to:

If you do not have symptoms, restrict your movements (stay at home). You will get a text message with information about what you need to do next.

Information:

If you had a positive COVID-19 antigen or PCR test since 1 December 2021, you do not have to restrict your movements. You do not need to get tested unless you develop symptoms.

Information:

PCR test results

Follow this advice if you get a:

If you live with someone who is restricting their movements

If you live with someone who is restricting their movements, you do not need to restrict your movements.

If you are caring for someone who cannot self-isolate

It may not be possible for some people with COVID-19 to self-isolate. For example, a child, an older person or someone with a disability.

You and everyone else they live with need to take extra care to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. You may need to restrict your movements too.

Read more about what to do if you are caring for someone who cannot self-isolate

Last updated: 20 January 2022 at 1.38pm

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