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Close contacts and contact tracing

Learn what you need to do if you have been in close contact with someone who tested positive or has symptoms of COVID-19.

Last updated: March 10, 2022


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  • ‎At this time, close contacts of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 or have symptoms of COVID-19, do not need to self-isolate.

  • If you are identified as a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19, you need to monitor yourself for symptoms of COVID-19. Follow relevant public health measures and PHO orders.  If you develop symptoms, stay at home until you are well enough to participate in your usual activities and check to see if you are recommended to get tested. Most people do not need testing and can self-manage.

  • If you have been in close contact with someone with symptoms of COVID-19 who has not been tested, you do not need to self-isolate. Monitor yourself for symptoms of COVID-19. If you develop symptoms, stay at home until you are well enough to participate in your usual activities and check to see if you are recommended to get tested. Most people do not need testing and can self-manage.

Who is considered a “close contact” of a person with COVID-19?

A close contact is generally someone who has been near a person with COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes when health and safety measures were not in place or were insufficient.

With the spread of the more transmissible Omicron variant of COVID-19, there has been an increase in COVID-19 in our communities and many people will be exposed to COVID-19. 

Whether notified of a COVID-19 exposure or not, everyone should routinely monitor symptoms of COVID-19 and stay home if you feel unwell or develop symptoms.

If symptoms develop, stay at home until you are well enough to participate in your usual activities and check to see if testing is recommended

Most people do not need testing and can self-manage even if they are known close contacts.

Closecontatcs_image.PNGInstructions for close contacts


At this time, close contacts do not need to self-isolate. You should monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 even if you are fully vaccinated or had COVID-19 in the last 90 days. 


If you have no symptoms of COVID-19, you do not need a test. 


If you develop symptoms, you should stay at home until your symptoms improve. You can use the following tools to determine if you are eligible to get tested:

How does contact tracing work?

When a person tests positive for COVID-19, they become a “case”. The people they have spent time with during their infectious period may be considered “close contacts."

At this stage in the pandemic, close contacts are not required to self-isolate or take any special measures. Therefore, contact tracing is of limited value except for high-priority settings. Public Health will follow up with COVID-19 close contacts in the following settings:

In high-priority settings, public health will conduct a risk assessment, and follow up directly with close contacts, if necessary.

High priority settings include:
  • Long-term care and assisted living facilities
  • Acute care facilities
  • Adult day programs
  • Correctional facilities
  • Shelters
  • Group homes
  • Work camps
  • Indigenous communities

In other settings, a person who tested positive for COVID-19 may be provided instructions and other information to share with their close contacts. 


See above for information on who is considered a close contact and who to notify. 

Should I get tested if I am a close contact of someone with COVID-19?

If you are not showing any symptoms of COVID-19, you do not need to be tested, unless you are asked to by Public Health. 

It can take several days from the last time you were exposed to someone who has COVID-19 for symptoms to develop or to have enough virus in your body for a test to detect COVID-19.

If you develop any symptoms of COVID-19, stay at home until you feel better. Learn how to manage your COVID-19 symptoms at home.

Not sure if you should be tested? Complete the BC COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool

If you live with someone who has COVID-19, read about caring for someone with COVID-19 to learn about what you should do to reduce the spread of the virus. 

Our cleaning and disinfecting document has detailed information on how to prevent the spread of illness, including COVID-19, while keeping you safe from harsh chemicals and/or chemicals that are not effective.


If you live with someone who is a close contact, there are steps you can take to limit the potential spread of COVID-19 to others in case this person gets sick with COVID-19. You may want to limit your contact with people who have a greater chance of getting very sick from COVID-19 such as older people, immunocompromised people, and people with some chronic diseases. 

Consider cleaning and disinfecting your home more often – the cleaning and disinfecting page has detailed information on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while keeping you safe from harsh chemicals and/or chemicals that are not effective.


If a parent or sibling has symptoms of COVID-19 or tested positive for COVID-19, household contacts should monitor for symptoms. They do not need to stay home.
 
Everyone should be paying attention to how they feel. If a child has a mild illness, they should stay away from school or child care settings until they are well enough to return to regular activities. 

If their symptoms persist or worsen, contact their care provider. Call 9-1-1 or go to the hospital if their symptoms become severe.

In this case, your colleague is a household contact, but you are not a close contact. Regardless of vaccination status or exposure, everyone should be paying attention to how they feel. If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 it is important to stay home until your symptoms have improved and check the self-assessment tool to see if you should get a test.




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