If you are a close contact of COVID-19

You'll usually find out if you are a close contact of a person who tested positive for COVID-19 (coronavirus) from:

  • a text message from the HSE contact tracing team
  • the COVID Tracker app
  • the public health team investigating confirmed cases within a specific setting

Close contact can mean:

  • spending more than a total of 15 minutes of face-to-face contact within 2 metres of someone who has COVID-19, indoors or outdoors, over a 24 hour period
  • living in the same house or shared accommodation as someone who has COVID-19 - this includes sexual partners
  • spending more than 2 hours in an indoor space with someone who has COVID-19, for example, a workplace, classroom, social venue, household or transport

What close contacts need to do

If you are a close contact of someone that tests positive for COVID-19, what you need to do depends on if you:

The advice on this page is for adults who are close contacts.

Read advice for children who are close contacts

If you have symptoms

If you are a close contact and you have symptoms of COVID-19 you need to:

Do these even if you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or had a previous positive COVID-19 PCR test.

People you live with need to restrict their movements (stay at home).

If you do not have symptoms

If you are a close contact and you do not have symptoms of COVID-19 you need to:

You do not have to do either of these things if you do not have symptoms and you are fully vaccinated.

People you live with do not have to restrict their movements unless they are also a close contact.

Read what to do if you are a close contact and you had a previous positive COVID-19 PCR test

If you are fully vaccinated

If you are a close contact, fully vaccinated and do not have symptoms of COVID-19 - you do not need to restrict your movements or get a test. A contact tracer will discuss this with you when they phone you.

If you develop symptoms of COVID-19:

Do these even if you are fully vaccinated.

If you have a weak immune system

If you are a close contact and you have a weak immune system, you should get a COVID-19 PCR test and restrict your movements (stay at home) for 14 days. Do this even if you are fully vaccinated. This is because you may not get the same level of protection from the vaccine as other people if you have a weak immune system (immunosuppressed).

Read about having a weak immune system and COVID-19

Essential healthcare workers

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

Your COVID-19 test

If you are a close contact, you will get a text message with a:

  • link to the ‘Book a test’ webpage
  • 6-digit code to enter on the webpage

Most people will need 2 COVID-19 tests.

First test

When you book online, you will get a text message with an appointment date and details for your first COVID-19 test. We will schedule your first test for as soon as possible. Stay at home and restrict your movements, even if you feel well.

Second test

We will usually schedule your second test for 10 days after you were last in contact with the person who tested positive. If your last contact with this person was more than 8 days ago, you will only have 1 test.

If you do not book a test online

If you do not book online, stay at home and restrict your movements. The contact tracing team will phone you to arrange a test. Do not phone your GP.

If your first test is negative

If your first test was less than 10 days after your last contact and is negative (COVID-19 not detected), you need to continue to restrict your movements (stay at home). Do this until you have a second negative test at least 10 days after your last close contact with the person who tested positive.

If your first test was at least 10 days after your last contact and you have no symptoms you can stop restricting your movements. You do not need a second test.

When you can stop restricting your movements

If your second test is negative

You can stop restricting your movements if you:

  • have a negative test (COVID-19 not detected) 10 days after your last contact with the person who tested positive
  • do not have any symptoms of COVID-19

If you develop symptoms after a negative test

If you get a negative test result and you then develop symptoms, self-isolate and book another COVID-19 test.

Read more about self-isolation (staying in your room)

If either test is positive

If you get a positive test result, self-isolate.

Most people can stop self-isolating when both of these apply:

  • You have had no fever for 5 days.
  • It has been 10 days since you first developed symptoms or from the date of your test if you did not have symptoms.

Your close contacts will need to restrict their movements for at least 10 days from their last contact with you. You will get a call from a contact tracer to find out who you were in close contact with.

If symptoms of COVID-19 get worse

If you start to feel very unwell, phone your GP or GP out-of-hours. Particularly if your breathing changes or becomes difficult, or your cough gets worse.

Immediate action required: Call 112 or 999 if:

  • you are very short of breath and your GP is not available

If you had a previous positive PCR test

Positive PCR test in the past 2 weeks

If you had a positive PCR test in the past 2 weeks and you are a close contact, you do not need another test. You must self-isolate (stay in your room) for the full 10 days as advised after your positive result.

Positive PCR test more than 9 months ago

If you had COVID-19 over 9 months ago, you are no longer immune. If you are not fully vaccinated, restrict your movements (stay at home) and get a COVID-19 PCR test.

Positive PCR test more than 2 weeks ago and less than 9 months ago

If you do not have any symptoms of COVID-19, you do not need another test. You do not need to restrict your movements.

If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, self-isolate (stay in your room) and get a PCR test. If your symptoms get worse or you are worried about symptoms, phone your GP.

Read about self-isolation and restricted movements

If you have not been contacted

If you believe you are a close contact but have not been contacted by contact tracing:

Supports

Read about community, financial and mental health supports during COVID-19

Last updated: 26 September 2021 at 10.30pm

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