Last updated: August 24, 2021 at 9:30 a.m.

If you have been told that you are a close (or high-risk) contact of someone who has COVID-19 by Toronto Public Health or the person who has COVID-19, find out what to do next.

If your child is a close contact of someone who has COVID-19, find out how to care for them safely.

As part of the case and contact management process, Toronto Public Health works with people who have COVID-19 to determine anyone who may have been exposed to the virus. If you are identified as a close contact, you will receive a letter from Toronto Public Health or the person who has COVID-19. You may also receive a phone call or text message from Toronto Public Health

Toronto Public Health may contact you to check how you are feeling, provide information about self-isolation, and answer questions you may have.

If you are identified as a close contact of someone who has COVID-19 you will need to self-isolate, unless you are fully immunized or you have had a recent COVID-19 infection. To find out if you meet the criteria for being fully immunized or having had a recent COVID-19 infection, please read the important information for fully immunized close contacts and close contacts with a recent COVID-19 infection below.

If you are worried that you may have been exposed to COVID-19, but have not been notified that you are a close contact, you should self-monitor for symptoms and get tested for COVID-19 if you develop symptoms.

If you are a close contact of someone who has COVID-19, you must self-isolate for at least 10 days from the day you last had close contact with that person. Toronto Public Health may direct a longer self-isolation period based on your vaccination and testing status and when you last had close contact with the person who has COVID-19.

If you are fully immunized or have had a recent COVID-19 infection, you may not need to self-isolate. Please read the information for fully immunized close contacts and close contacts with a recent COVID-19 infection below if you think this may apply to you.

If you are told by Toronto Public Health (or a person with COVID-19) that you need to self-isolate, you must comply to prevent risk for transmitting COVID-19. Self-isolation is required by the Health Protection and Promotion Act.  If you fail to self-isolate, you could be fined under the Act. Please review information about the COVID-19 Self-Isolation Class Order.

If you cannot safely self-isolate in your own home, you may be eligible to stay at the Toronto Voluntary Isolation Centre.

To safely self-isolate, you should:

  • Isolate yourself (stay in your own room) as much as possible
  • Wear a mask or face covering when leaving your room
  • Maintain a distance of 2 metres (6 feet) when outside your room
  • Use separate kitchen/bathroom if possible; if using a kitchen/bathroom that others use, use it at a separate time and clean any high-touch surfaces after use
  • Not eat meals in the same area with others in your home
  • Not share a bed

Follow Public Health Ontario’s instructions on how to self-isolate.

Instructions on how to self-isolate are also available in: French | Arabic | Bengali | Simplified Chinese | Traditional Chinese | Eastern Ojibwe | Farsi | German | Greek | Gujarati | Hindi | Italian | Japanese | Korean | Mohawk | Oji-Cree | Polish | Portuguese | Punjabi | Romanian | Russian | Somali | Spanish | Swampy Cree | Tagalog | Tamil | Ukrainian | Urdu | Vietnamese

 

If you are required to self-isolate, your household members should stay home except for essential reasons (e.g. getting groceries, going to work). Some workplaces do not allow household members of close contacts to attend work. Fully immunized household members and those who have had a recent COVID-19 infection have no restrictions on leaving their home.

If you develop symptoms during your period of self-isolation, both you and your household members must self-isolate until you test negative for COVID-19 or are provided with an alternative health diagnosis. Fully immunized household members and those who have had a recent COVID-19 infection are not required to self-isolate if you develop symptoms.

If you are a close contact of someone who has COVID-19 and you cannot safely self-isolate in your own home, you may be eligible to stay at the Toronto Voluntary Isolation Centre.

If you are identified as a close contact, you should arrange to get tested at an Assessment Centre, even if you are fully immunized or have had a recent COVID-19 infection. Directions on when to test varies depending on the type of contact you had with the person who has COVID-19. You may need to be tested more than once.

If you saw the person who has COVID-19 only once, you should wait and get tested 7 days after the day you saw the person who has COVID-19.

If you are a household contact of someone with COVID-19, or had ongoing exposure to the person with COVID-19, you should go for a test as soon as possible. If the first test was 0 to 6 days after your most recent exposure, you should go for a second test 7 days after your most recent exposure to the person. If your first test was 7 or more days after your most recent exposure, you do not need to test a second time unless you develop symptoms.

You should also always get tested (even if it means getting tested again) if you develop any symptoms of COVID-19, including new or worsening:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Muscle aches or joint pain
  • Difficulty breathing (shortness of breath)
  • Tiredness
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Runny nose
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g. nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea)

If you test positive at any time, TPH will contact you and you will not need further testing. If you are not already self-isolating when you test positive, you must start to self-isolate immediately. Find out what to do if you test positive for COVID-19.

Even if your tests are negative, you will need to continue to self-isolate for the full 10 days unless you are fully immunized or have had a recent COVID-19 infection and meet the criteria to be exempt from self-isolation.

You should monitor for the appearance of symptoms if you are a close contact of someone who has COVID-19, even if you are fully immunized or have had a recent COVID-19 infection.

All close contacts who develop any COVID-19 symptoms should get tested right away, even if it means testing a second time. You must also notify Toronto Public Health at 416-338-7600 for an assessment and next steps. Your household members may also need to self-isolate.

If you are fully immunized or have had a recent COVID-19 infection and you develop COVID-19 symptoms you are required to self-isolate immediately and get tested. Your household members may also need to self-isolate.

Based on your test results, do the following:

  • If you test negative, you are able to come out of self-isolation once your symptoms have been improving for 24 hours and you have no fever without taking fever-reducing medication; if you have had any gastro-intestinal symptoms (e.g. nausea, upset stomach, diarrhea), these symptoms must be improving for 48 hours before coming out of self-isolation
  • If you test positive or indeterminate, remain in self-isolation and you will be contacted by Toronto Public Health

Fully immunized persons are those who have received the second dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series (e.g., Pfizer) or a single dose of a one-dose series (e.g., Janssen) and where 14 days have passed since their final dose. To be considered fully immunized, the vaccines received must be on the lists approved by Health Canada or the World Health Organization, which as of August 2021 are: Pfizer-BioNTech (also known as COMIRNATY or Tozinameran), Moderna, AstraZeneca (also known as COVISHIELD or Vaxzevria), Janssen (Johnson & Johnson), Sinopharm/BIBP1 and Sinovac–CoronaVac.

If it has not been 14 days since you received your final vaccine dose, you are not considered fully immunized and you must self-isolate for 10 days.

To be considered a close contact with a recent COVID-19 infection, you must have had a positive COVID-19 test result within the 90 days prior to your last exposure to the person with COVID-19 when they were infectious.

If your positive COVID-19 test result was more than 90 days prior to that last exposure, you must self-isolate for 10 days.

If you meet one of the definitions for being fully immunized or having a recent COVID-19 infection, you still must self-isolate if any of the following apply:

  • If you have symptoms related to COVID-19;
  • If you are immunocompromised;
  • If you are a resident at a long-term care or retirement home
  • If you are a hospital inpatient
  • If you have been otherwise instructed to self-isolate by Toronto Public Health

If none of the above apply, you are not required to self-isolate. You should still do the following:

If you have self-isolated for 10 days and have not developed symptoms, you can stop self-isolating.  After you stop self-isolating you must continue to practise prevention measures, including physical distancing, wearing a mask, and washing your hands.

If you have questions about your self-isolation period or when you can return to work, call the COVID-19 Hotline 416-338-7600.

You may receive a text notification from Toronto Public Health if you are identified as a close contact of someone who has COVID-19.

The text message will be from 77000 and include a secure link to complete a personal assessment form. The form is voluntary and will take about 10 minutes to complete. You can opt out by texting STOP. After you complete the form, you may receive a call to confirm the information you submitted. If you have any questions about the form, you can call the COVID-19 Hotline at 416-338-7600.

The text messages are delivered by the Virtual Assistant tool, which is part of the Government of Ontario’s case and contact management system. It can be used on mobile devices and created for a mobile experience. All information collected through the tool is kept confidential and protected by Ontario’s health laws. It will only be used for public health purposes.

The Virtual Assistant tool is currently being used for close contacts of people who test positive for COVID-19, including non-household close contacts of people in the school community who test positive for COVID-19. Non-household close contacts of people in the school community who test positive will receive a phone call to confirm their enrollment in the Virtual Assistant before receiving any text notifications. Close contacts who are part of a dismissed school cohort will continue to be notified of the need to self-isolate through the school principal and will not be enrolled in the Virtual Assistant tool at this time.

The Virtual Assistant tool is also being used to notify people who have COVID-19.

Resource: