Close contacts of a COVID-19 variant of concern

This advice is for people who have been told they may be a close contact of a COVID-19 (coronavirus) variant of concern.

A COVID-19 variant of concern is a more infectious strain of the virus.

There is separate advice for people who have been told they are a regular close contact.

What does close contact mean?

There are two main types of close contact - household and non-household

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

You are a non-household close contact if you spend more than a total of 15 minutes of face-to-face contact with someone who had a positive PCR test. This contact can happen over a 24 hour period and you must have been within 2 metres of that person.

What you need to do

If you are told you may be a close contact of a variant of concern you need to:

You need to do both, even if you are fully vaccinated, have previously had COVID-19 or have no symptoms.

This advice applies to both adults and children.

If you are an essential healthcare worker

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.

When you can stop self-isolating

You can stop self-isolating when both of these apply:

Continue to follow the advice on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

Your COVID-19 test

You will get a text message from the HSE contact tracing team with details of your COVID-19 PCR test appointment.

Your appointment will be scheduled for as soon as possible.

Most people will need to have 2 PCR tests.

If your first test is negative

If your first test is negative (COVID-19 not detected), continue to self-isolate. You will need to have a second PCR test.

But, if your first test was at least 10 days after your last contact with the person who has COVID-19, you can stop self-isolating if you have no symptoms. You will not need a second test.

Continue to follow the advice on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19

Second test

Your second test will be 10 days after you were last in contact with the person who tested positive.

If your second test is negative

You can stop self-isolating if you:

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

Continue to follow the advice on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19

If your first or second test is positive

If you get a positive test result:

Everyone in your household will also need to continue to isolate.

If you develop symptoms after a negative test

If you get a negative test result and you then develop symptoms:

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

Urgent advice: Phone your GP or GP out-of-hours if:

  • your symptoms of COVID-19 get worse
  • you start to feel very unwell
  • your breathing changes or becomes difficult, or your cough gets worse

Immediate action required: Call 999 or 112 if:

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

Last updated: 3 December 2021 at 5.50pm

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