There’s no doubt that trying to keep up with the current rules on what makes a close contact and how long you need to isolate for can be pretty hard to navigate, so we’re going to give you a rundown on the new changes to the rules and what you need to worry about if you are a close contact.
The changes to these rules is happening on a federal level, which means that every state and territory will be implementing these rules.
New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory started enacting these rules from midnight last night, so these changes are now in effect.
Tasmania will be implementing these rules from January 1, and the Northern Territory and Western Australia will make announcements on when this will be enacted in the next few days.
The first rule that is changing is the definition of close contacts. As of midnight last night, a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case is now defined as a “household contact, or a household-like contact, of a confirmed case only.”
Not someone who has interacted with a confirmed case in a supermarket, or restaurant, or retail store setting. This means only someone who has spent four hours or more with someone in a home setting.
“A household contact is someone who lives with a case or has spent more than four hours with them in a house, accommodation or care facility setting,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced.
“You are only a close contact if you are, effectively, living with someone or have been in an accommodation setting with someone.”
A confirmed positive case of COVID-19 will have to isolate for seven days from the date they tested positive on their PCR test, earlier they had to isolate for 10 days.
On day six, the infectious individual will have to test negative on a rapid antigen test prior to being allowed back into the community on the seventh day.
A close contact that is symptomatic must take a PCR test and if positive, isolate from seven days after the date of the positive test.
“If you are symptomatic then the right test for you is a PCR test,” Mr Morrison said.
A close contact who is asymptomatic must take a rapid antigen test and if the rapid antigen test comes back positive then they must take a PCR test.
If a close contact returns a negative result, they are still required to isolate for seven days from when they last had contact with the positive case, as symptoms may begin to present themselves later.
“That is seven days from their date of exposure to a person who is a confirmed case,” Mr Morrison said.
They will then need to have a rapid antigen test on day six of their isolation.
What happens if the day six test returns positive?
If you receive a positive rapid antigen test on day six, you must then go and get a PCR test.
If the PCR test comes back positive, the seven-day isolation period begins again.
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