National COVID-19 Update: National cabinet confirms definition of close contact
What you need to know
- A close contact is someone who lives with a person confirmed to have COVID-19 or has spent more than 4 hours with a person confirmed COVID-19 positive in a household or household like setting including accommodation or care facilities.
- Other contacts will be required to monitor for symptoms and undergo testing if symptoms appear.
- Close contacts who are asymptomatic will be required to undergo a Rapid Antigen Test and quarantine for seven days after exposure and undertake a Rapid Antigen Test again on day six, followed by a PCR test if this is positive.
- All confirmed COVID cases will be required to self-isolate for seven days from receiving a positive test result and will need to undertake a Rapid Antigen Test on day six that is negative prior to completing the seven day self-isolation.
In response to the Omicron variant, National Cabinet met yesterday to agree on a definition of a close contact. Changes to the self-isolation settings for confirmed cases were also agreed.
Close contact definition
In most cases, a close contact is defined as:
- someone who lives with a person who is a confirmed case of COVID-19
- or has spent more than 4 hours with a person who is a confirmed case of COVID –19:
- in a household or household-like setting
- an accommodation like setting
- in a care facility
Close contacts who are asymptomatic will now be required to undertake a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) and isolate for seven days from the date of exposure.
A second RAT will be required on day six.
A positive RAT (at any time) will result in the need for a PCR test. If this test is positive then the confirmed case will need to isolate for seven days from the date of receiving the positive PCR test.
A negative day 6 RAT result will signal the end of isolation from the completion of day 7.
Casual or other contacts: Other contacts (with lower risk of infection) should monitor for symptoms but will only need to undertake a RAT or PCR test if symptoms occur.
All contacts should wear a mask when outside the home, monitor symptoms and avoid visiting high risk settings for 14 days following exposure to reduce their risk of transmission to others.
COVID-19 symptomatic individuals
Anyone who experiences COVID symptoms must complete a PCR test even if this occurs during an isolation or quarantine period.
State and Territory Implementation Timeframes
- The new definition came into effect from 12.01am on 31 December in NSW, Victoria, Queensland and the ACT
- SA adopted the definition from 12.01am 31 December, however close contacts and confirmed cases will still be required to quarantine for 10 days.
- Tasmania will implement the new arrangements from 1 January 2022.
- NT will confirm how they will move to the new definitions in the coming days.
- WA has indicated that it will continue with existing contact and isolation rules at this stage.
Access to RAT
State testing sites will be receiving RAT supplies for individuals needing a test to complete close contact requirements. PCR tests will be prioritised for symptomatic people or those who are close contacts with a positive RAT result.
Additional measures for RAT access for vulnerable groups and furlough requirements are still being considered.
NDS continues to advocate strongly for additional support for the sector to obtain RAT’s and for priority PCR testing where this is required.
Providers are reminded to continue to check their State or Territory Health website as advice can change quickly and alternative arrangements may be put in place to enable the sector to manage risks where an exposure occurs to allow continuity of support.
There will be a further meeting of National Cabinet on 5 January to consider additional advice regarding health and other care settings.
NDS will provide additional information for the disability sector as this is announced.
- Australian Health Care Protection Principal Committee Statement
- For Providers - COVID-19 - NDIS website
- Disability provider Alerts - Australian Government Department of Health
- Providing disability support services during COVID-19 - Australian Government Department of Health
- NDS COVID-19 hub for information and resources including PPE