COVID-19 Coronavirus: What to do if you have COVID-19 or are a close contact

Find out what to do if you test positive for COVID-19 or are a close contact, as part of the testing and isolation rules in Western Australia.
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It’s important to understand what testing and isolation rules you must follow if you have COVID-19 or are a close contact. Following these guidelines will help you know what to do to keep yourself and others in the community safe.

If you have recovered from COVID-19 in the past 4 weeks and become a close contact, you do not need to isolate again if you have no symptoms and are not immunocompromised. If you develop symptoms, you should stay at home when sick. People who are at higher risk of severe COVID-19 disease who develop new symptoms within 28 days of release from isolation should contact their health care provider for advice.

What is a close contact?

A close contact is someone who has had close personal interaction with a person with COVID-19 during their infectious period. If you are a close contact, there are protocols you must follow to limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect yourself and those around you. There are different instructions for close contact with COVID-19 symptoms, and close contacts with no symptoms.

A close contact in Western Australia is defined as:

  • A household member or intimate partner of a person with COVID-19 who has had contact with them during their infectious period.
  • Someone who has had close personal interaction with a person with COVID-19 during their infectious period:
    • where they spent 4 hours of cumulative contact together in a residential setting across a 24-hour period
    • where masks have been removed by both people during the period of contact.
  • Someone who is informed by WA Health that they are a close contact.

Free rapid antigen tests are available as part of the WA Free RAT program. Visit the webpage for more information about where you can collect them.

I am a close contact without symptoms

I am a close contact with no symptoms

You are considered a close contact for 7 complete days from the date your contact tests positive to COVID-19.

Testing

Leaving isolation

If you do not have symptoms, you can leave your place of isolation during your isolation period if you:

  • take a RAT each day before leaving and receive a negative result (you must be able to provide evidence of this if requested).
  • wear a mask at all times outside of the home (the usual exemptions apply, including for children under 12).
  • do not attend high-risk settings, including:
    • hospitals and healthcare settings
    • aged care facilities
    • residential care facilities (including disability care facilities and mental health residential facilities)
    • correctional facilities.

If you work at at a high-risk setting, you can attend work if you have received written or oral confirmation from your employer. Relevant workers entering high-risk settings are subject to additional obligations (see below).

If you visit high-risk settings due to an emergency, you must tell a relevant officer before attending or as soon as possible upon your arrival.

For information about mask rules in Western Australia and the different types of face masks.

You are strongly encouraged to:

  • avoid non-essential gatherings and contact with people at risk of severe illness
  • work from home, where possible
  • tell your employer, educational facility or early learning centre of your close contact status.

If you are a close contact with no symptoms who works in a high-risk setting, you must also:

  • advise your employer you are a close contact
  • seek oral or written confirmation from your employer to attend work
  • monitor for symptoms
  • immediately leave the workplace and return home if you develop symptoms or become COVID-positive
  • enter or remain at the high-risk setting only for work duties
  • wear a surgical mask while at work along with any PPE requirements from your employer
  • take breaks away from other people
  • maintain physical distancing.

Testing, isolation and close contact frequently asked questions are available.

Close contacts with no symptoms can collect free RATs from collection sites in metropolitan and regional WA to help them complete their testing requirements.

I am a close contact with symptoms

I am a close contact with symptoms

Testing and isolation

  • Take a PCR or RAT as soon as you develop symptoms
  • If the RAT returns a negative result, repeat the test 24 hours later.
  • If your PCR test or your first RAT was on Day 7, you must continue to isolate until you are informed that the PCR returned a negative result or until your second RAT returns a negative result.
  • If your PCR or second RAT were negative prior to day 6, you must still take a PCR test on day 6 or RAT on day 7.

Testing, isolation and close contact frequently asked questions are available.

What to do if you test positive for COVID-19

I have tested positive for COVID-19

1. Isolate for 7 days

Isolate at home for 7 complete days. Keep your distance from household members who do not have COVID-19. You don’t have to isolate from household members if they also have COVID-19.

If you have no symptoms after 7 days, you can stop isolating. You do not need a negative test result to leave isolation after 7 days and go back to work.

If you have respiratory symptoms (such as a frequent cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose or blocked nose) at the end of 7 complete days, you must continue to isolate until your symptoms resolve. or get clearance from a medical professional before leaving isolation.

The 7-day isolation period means 7 complete days from the time you took your test. This means 7 x 24 hours – if you tested positive at 3pm on a Monday, your isolation period ends at 3pm the following Monday.

If you test positive to COVID-19 while you are in Western Australia away from home (e.g. on a holiday or business in WA), you can stay where you are if suitable, alternatively you can travel home or to another suitable place to complete your isolation. If you decide to travel, you should only stop as necessary for fuel or rest. You must also follow mask wearing and hygiene requirements at all times.

You are only able to travel within WA in your own car, by taxi or rideshare service, by public ferry if you’re on Rottnest Island or by a private charter vehicle or private charter flight.

If you’re travelling by privately chartered vehicle or flight, you should keep at least 2 metres away from other people. Travel on commercial flights is not permitted.

For information about mask rules in Western Australia and the different types of face masks.

2. Register your positive result

If you return a positive rapid antigen test (RAT), you must register your result (external link) with the Department of Health.

Registering your positive RAT result is important as it may assist in accessing appropriate sick leave and getting connected to COVID-19 Care at Home, if needed.

After registration, you’ll receive an SMS from WA Health. There is a link in the SMS that will take you to a web page with more information and a series of questions to answer.

The questions will ask if you have visited any high-risk locations or need extra support through the WA COVID-19 Care at Home program (external link). Your answers will help WA Health continue to protect people at high risk of getting sick from COVID-19.

3. Tell your close contacts and workplace

Tell your close contacts and your workplace that you have COVID-19. To limit the spread of COVID-19, make sure you tell anyone you have been in contact with during your infectious period. It is also important to inform your workplace that you have tested positive.

After isolation

More information about After you’ve had COVID-19 and testing, isolation and close contact frequently asked questions are available.

More information:

Page reviewed 15 August 2022