Contact tracing

Introduction

Contact tracing means finding people who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19. This work is done by contact tracers.

If you test positive for COVID-19, a contact tracer will call you to find out who you have been in close contact with.

If you are a close contact and not fully vaccinated, you need to get tested for COVID-19 and restrict your movements.

This document explains the process of contact tracing, what to do if you are a close contact, and how the COVID Tracker app works.

Contact tracing

If you test positive for COVID-19 and have symptoms, the contact tracer will ask you about the people and places you visited in the 48 hours before your symptoms started.

If you test positive for COVID-19 but you do not have symptoms, they will ask you about the people and places you visited in the 24 hours before your test took place.

Contact tracers do not ask about people you may have passed by on the street or in a shop.

Source investigation

If you test positive for COVID-19 but you are not identified as a close contact, the contact tracer may ask you extra questions. This is known as source investigation.

If you have symptoms, the contact tracers will ask you about where you were in the 7 days before your symptoms began.

If you do not have symptoms, contact tracers will ask you about where you were in the 7 days before you took your COVID-19 test.

This can identify the source of your infection and it can stop more people from being infected by the same source.

What happens if I am a close contact?

If you are identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you will get either:

If you are identified as a close contact you need to get tested for COVID-19 and restrict your movements.

If you are a close contact of someone who tested positive after they arrived into Ireland from a designated country, you should self-isolate.

If you think you may be a close contact but have not been contacted, you can call the COVID-19 helpline and tell them you have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

Close contact after getting a COVID-19 vaccine

If you are a close contact of someone with COVID-19 but you are fully vaccinated, you do not need to restrict your movements or get tested for COVID-19.

However, if you develop symptoms of COVID-19 or you are a close contact of a variant of concern, you need to self-isolate and get tested for COVID-19.

If you have a medical condition which puts you at risk, you need to restrict your movements and get tested.

A member of the contact tracing team will tell you what you need to do.

COVID Tracker app

The HSE provides a contact-tracing app called ‘COVID Tracker’.

If you download the COVID Tracker app to your phone, it can alert you if you have been in close contact with someone else who uses the app and has tested positive for coronavirus. You won't know who the contact is or where the contact happened.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you will be asked if you want to share anonymous data logged by the app to alert other users who have been in close contact with you.

The app uses Bluetooth technology and anonymous IDs to log other nearby phones that have the app and to identify phones that have been closer than 2 metres for more than 15 minutes. This data is stored on your phone unless you choose to share it with the HSE if you test positive.

You can also use the app to track symptoms, get advice and to store your EU Digital COVID Certificate.

You can download the app for free if your smartphone:

  • Is less than 5 years old
  • Uses iOS 13.5 (or higher) or Android 6.0 (or higher)

To find out more about the app, and to download it, visit covidtracker.gov.ie.

Page edited: 20 July 2021