Contact tracing and close contacts

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 get tested for COVID-19, you will get your result by text message.

If your test result is positive for COVID-19, the text will include a link to a website where you can upload contact details for your close contacts. If you do not use the website, 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 or recovered from COVID-19 in the past 9 months, you need to get tested for COVID-19 and restrict your movements.

Children under 13 who are a close contact of someone with COVID-19 in primary school, childcare, social or sports groups do not need to restrict their movements or get a COVID-19 test if they have no symptoms. Contact tracing no longer happens in these settings. This does not apply to children in special education.

This document explains contact tracing, what to do if you are a close contact, what your child may need to do if they 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 tracing is confidential. Anyone a contact tracer calls will not know it was you who gave them their contact details. Contact tracers do not ask about people you may have passed by on the street or in a shop.

What happens if I am a close contact and I am not vaccinated?

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 for 14 days.

You should get tested for COVID-19 and self-isolate if:

  • You have symptoms
  • You are a close contact of someone who tested positive after they arrived into Ireland from a high-risk country

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.

What happens if I am a close contact and I am fully vaccinated?

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

However, if you develop symptoms of COVID-19 or you are a close contact of someone who tested positive after arriving from a high-risk country, 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.

What should I do if my child is a close contact?

Aged under 13

Your child does not need to restrict their movements or get a COVID-19 test if they have no symptoms and they are a close contact of someone in any of the following:

  • Primary school
  • Childcare or early learning service
  • Sports activity
  • Social event

If your child is a close contact of someone with COVID-19 in a household setting, and does not have symptoms, they need to restrict their movements and get a COVID-19 test. They do not need to do this if they are fully vaccinated or had a positive test in the last 9 months.

If your child is a close contact of someone with COVID-19 in a household setting, and has symptoms, they need to isolate and get a COVID-19 test. They need to do this even if they are fully vaccinated or had a positive test in the last 9 months.

If you have a baby aged under 3 months, phone your GP for advice if they are a close contact.

Aged 13 and over

If your child is a close contact and not fully vaccinated or did not have positive PCR test in the past 9 months, they need to restrict their movements for 14 days, even if they feel well.

They can stop restricting their movements when both apply:

  • They have a negative test (COVID-19 not detected) 10 days after they were last in contact with the person who tested positive
  • They do not have any symptoms of COVID-19

If your child is aged 13 or over and has been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 in school, you will be contacted to bring your child home. The contact tracing team will arrange a COVID-19 test for your child and contact you with the details.

Do not ring your GP, unless your child develops symptoms. If your child has symptoms of COVID-19 and is a close contact of someone who has tested positive:

Special education and respite care

Close contacts of all ages in special educational needs schools and respite care need to:

  • Restrict their movements for 5 days
  • Get a COVID-19 test - a contact tracer will arrange this

If your child is fully vaccinated

If your child is a close contact, but is fully vaccinated and does not have symptoms, they do not need to restrict their movements. They do not need to get a COVID-19 test either, unless a public health doctor recommends it.

The HSE website has further advice on what to do if your child is a close contact.

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.

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

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 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: 29 September 2021