Types of contacts

How the contact type is determined

There are several types of ‘contacts’ of COVID-19:

  • close contacts
  • casual contacts
  • secondary contacts.

ACT Health does a risk assessment for each public exposure location.

The exposure risk determines whether you are classified as a close or casual contact.

Factors that are considered when assessing the exposure risk include the following.

Type of exposure

For example, how close someone was to a confirmed case and the amount of time they spent close to a case or in the same enclosed space.

The setting

For example, whether:

  • the exposure occurred indoors
  • the amount of ventilation at the exposure location
  • presence of crowding
  • activities that increase risk of transmission, like singing or shouting.

Other factors

For example if COVID-19 transmission has already occurred at the exposure location.

ACT Health uses the COVID-19 CDNA National Guidelines for Public Health Units to assess if you are a casual or close contact. ACT Health provides instructions consistent with these guidelines.

Close contact

A close contact is deemed to be at a high risk of being infected with COVID-19.

A close contact is someone who has had prolonged face to face contact or  has been in the same enclosed space as a person with COVID-19 or visited a close contact exposure location.

Close contacts may live or work closely with someone who has COVID-19 or have spent a prolonged period in the same place at the same place, with someone with COVID-19. For example, this may be an airline flight, a health facility, or a school.

Find out more about quarantine requirements for close contacts.

Download: COVID-19 contact types - Close contact (PDF 472KB)

Casual contact

A casual contact is deemed to be at lower risk of being infected with COVID-19 than a close contact.

They may have been in the same location at the same time as someone with COVID-19, but for a shorter period or at a location where there is a lower risk of transmission – e.g. an outdoor café.

For this reason, the quarantine and testing requirements for casual contacts is different.

Find out more about quarantine requirements for casual contacts.

Download: COVID-19 contact types - Casual contact (PDF 161KB)

Secondary contact

You are a secondary contact if you have been close to someone since they were exposed to COVID-19.

This includes anyone who:

  • Lives in the same home as a close contact of a person with COVID-19 (this is a household contact).
  • Has visited the home of a close contact of a person with COVID-19
  • Has been visited in their home by a close contact of a person with COVID-19

If you are a secondary contact who is a household member of a close contact you must quarantine until your household's close contact is released from quarantine by ACT Health. You should maintain separation from the close contact during the quarantine period. This includes:

  • Remain completely separated from them at all times
  • Stay and sleep in a different room from them
  • Use a separate bathroom (if you only have one bathroom, you must clean the bathroom, including taps, doorknobs, buttons and anything else you may have touched with disinfectant after every use)
  • Not share household items including dishes, cups, towels, bedding, or other items. After using these items, you should wash them thoroughly with soap and water or use a dishwasher/washing machine

Avoid shared/common areas. If it is unavoidable, ensure that masks that cover the nose and mouth are worn whenever in common areas (e.g. kitchen, hallway) Any common surfaces in the area (e.g. taps, cupboard, door handles) must be cleaned with disinfectant after use.

If you are a secondary contact who is not a household member of a close contact you must quarantine until the close contact has a COVID-19 test and receives confirmation of a negative result.

There are specific quarantine requirements for secondary contacts. Find out more about quarantine requirements for secondary contacts.

Download: COVID-19 contact types - Secondary contact - Living in same household (PDF 158KB)

Download: COVID-19 contact types - Secondary contact - Not living in same household (PDF 158KB)

Exposure locations

When a new case of COVID-19 is identified, ACT Health interviews the person to work out where they went in the community during their infectious period. The places they went while infectious are called exposure locations.

Exposure location information is verified with data from the Check In CBR app and other records.

Once a place has been listed as an exposure location, ACT Health will contact individuals directly by text using check in data from the Check In CBR app. The location will also be listed on the ACT COVID-19 website.

Sometimes a person with COVID-19 remembers other locations they have been to and did not check in at, after their first interview.

This means the number of exposure locations can change quickly. There may be a delay between when a new exposure location or the updated exposure time is listed online.

ACT Health encourages all Canberrans to regularly check the exposure location list to see the new exposure locations listed and follow the indicated health advice.

Investigation Locations

These are public locations where we believe several confirmed cases of COVID-19 may have acquired their infection. At this time, we are unable to confirm how the infection was introduced to the location.

We use this classification to highlight a date/time, location or venue that is not already covered by current exposure sites or contact types eg: close or casual contact locations.

Investigation locations are used to help identify as many links as possible, as well as identify anyone else who may have unknowingly been exposed to COVID-19 at these locations.

If you have been to an investigation location at the dates and times specified, please get tested for COVID-19 and quarantine until receiving a negative result. You do not need to have symptoms.

You should monitor for symptoms for 14 days after last being at the location. If you develop any symptoms, even if mild, immediately get another test.

It is important to note that if you have been to an investigation location:

  • You can attend any of our public testing sites for your test.
  • You will not be contacted by ACT Health, unless you receive a positive test.
  • You are free to leave isolation once you receive your negative test results.
  • You do not need to fill out an ACT Contact Declaration Form.
  • You do not need to have symptoms to be tested.
  • There is no need for any close contacts (e.g. family and friends) to get tested or to quarantine.
  • You only need to be tested if you visited the location at the specific date and time.

Download: COVID-19 contact types - Investigation location (PDF 158KB)

Monitor for symptoms

If you have been to any of the locations identified as a potential exposure location at the dates and times specified, you should monitor for symptoms.

While there is a low risk of transmission in these areas, we ask that you pay close attention to your health and monitor for COVID-19 symptoms for 14 days.

The main symptoms of COVID-19 are: fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, loss of smell or taste.

Less common symptoms are: runny or blocked nose, muscle pain, joint pain, diarrhoea, nausea, headache, vomiting, loss of appetite and fatigue.

If you develop symptoms, get tested for COVID-19 straight away and stay home until a negative test result is received.

You do not need to quarantine and you should only get tested if symptoms develop.

Download: COVID-19 contact types - Monitor for symptoms (PDF 158KB)

acknowledgement icon
Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the ACT, the Ngunnawal people. We acknowledge and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this city and this region.

Last Updated: September 15 2021