Contact tracing for COVID-19

Information on contact tracing, types of contacts and when to isolate.

Last updated: 14 April 2021

Alert Levels update

  • From midday Friday 12 March, all of New Zealand is at Alert Level 1.
  • You are legally required to wear a face mask or covering on all public transport and flights throughout New Zealand.
  • For more information about Alert Levels, see the Unite Against COVID-19 website.

Anyone who has cold or flu symptoms, including muscle aches and fatigue, should get a test and stay home until you have a negative test result. Find your local testing facility on the Healthpoint website.

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What contact tracing is

Most cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand have come from overseas. Once a case has been identified, the Ministry of Health and the local district health board's public health unit (PHU) track down people who may have been exposed to the virus through a process called contact tracing.

Health services use contact tracing to find people who may have been exposed to an infectious disease. There are several types of ‘contacts’ – Close Plus  Contacts, Close Contacts, Casual Plus Contacts and Casual Contacts. Health services provide advice to all of these contact types on what they need to do.


Contact tracing phone calls

If you have been identified as a Close or Close Plus Contact of someone with COVID-19, you can expect to be contacted by the Ministry of Health or your PHU. 

In some specific higher risk situations, Casual Plus Contacts may also be contacted by the Ministry of Health. 

Contact tracing may involve a phone call from the Ministry or PHU providing you with advice on testing, self-isolation and checking on your health and wellbeing. The Ministry call centre staff will identify themselves and inform you that they are calling from the National Investigation and Tracing Centre (NITC). They will also verify your name and contact details. These calls from the Ministry's call centre staff will usually come from 09 801 3009 or 09 306 8748.

Following this initial phone call, your details may be passed onto Healthline who will make follow up calls during your isolation period to check how you are doing. The calls from Healthline will usually come from 09 302 0408, 09 306 8750 or 09 306 8748. There may be a delay before your call is connected. If you are concerned that a call from Healthline isn’t genuine, you can email Healthline and request a call back. 

It's important to answer your phone, so the PHU, Ministry and Healthline can provide advice to you and check on your wellbeing.


Close or Close Plus Contacts

Close or Close Plus Contacts are those that are likely to be at a higher risk of being infected.

Close Contacts

‘Close Contacts’ are defined as any person with the following exposure to a confirmed or probable case during the case’s infectious period, without appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE):

  • direct contact with the body fluids or the laboratory specimens of a case
  • presence in the same room in a health care setting when an aerosol-generating procedure is undertaken on a case
  • living in the same household or household-like setting (eg, shared section of in a hostel) with a case
  • face-to-face contact in any setting within two metres of a case for 15 minutes or more
  • having been in a closed environment (eg, a classroom, hospital waiting room, or conveyance other than aircraft) within 2 metres of a case for 15 minutes or more; or in a higher-risk closed environment for 15 minutes or more as determined by the local Medical Officer of Health*.
  • having been seated on an aircraft within 2 metres of a case (for economy class this would mean 2 seats in any direction including seats across the aisle, other classes would require further assessment)
  • aircraft crew exposed to a case (a risk assessment conducted by the airline is required to identify which crew should be managed as close contacts).

*The local Medical Officer of Health will determine whether an environment is higher-risk. Considerations include the nature of the gathering, the level of contact between individuals and the ability to observe physical distancing/hygiene measures.

Any person who receives an orange Bluetooth notification via the NZ COVID Tracer app is considered a Close Contact.

Close Plus Contacts

  • Close Plus Contacts meet the same criteria for Close Contacts as above. However, their contact was where there is higher risk for transmission. 

Casual Plus Contacts

People who have had exposure to a case, but who don't meet the criteria of a Close Contact. For Casual Plus Contacts, their contact was where there is higher risk for transmission.

Any person who receives a yellow QR notification for a location of interest via the NZ COVID Tracer app where the notification says ‘Casual Plus Contact’. The notification will provide brief advice and a link for more information.


Casual Contacts

People who have had exposure to a case, but who don't meet the criteria of a Close Contact or Casual Plus Contact.

Any person who receives a yellow QR notification for a location of interest via the NZ COVID Tracer app where the notification says ‘Casual Contact’. The notification will provide brief advice and a link for more information.  

Actions for contacts

  Description Actions for the contact Actions for secondary* contacts
Casual Contact

People who have had exposure to a case, but who do not meet the criteria of a Close Contact.

  • Self-monitor for COVID symptoms for 14 days.
  • If symptoms develop, get tested and stay at home until negative test result is received.
  • No action.
Casual Plus Contact

People who have had exposure to a case, but who do not meet the criteria of a Close Contact. 

Their contact occurred where there is higher risk for transmission/spread including variant cases.

  • Get a test around Day 5 after last exposure and stay at home until negative test result is received. 
  • Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms for 14 days.
  • If symptoms develop, get a test immediately and stay at home until negative test result is received.
  • No action
Close Contact People who have had exposure to a case that meets the Close Contact criteria.
  • Isolate/quarantine, either at home or in a managed facility, for 14 days from last exposure.
  • Test immediately (unless it's within 1 day of their next scheduled test), and on day 5 after last exposure and day 12 after last exposure.
  • If symptoms develop, get an additional test immediately.
  • If the Close Contact develops symptoms, the household member(s) should stay at home until the Close Contact returns a negative test result (following symptom onset).
  • If one or more household member(s) of the Close Contact develop symptoms, they should stay at home and get a test.
Close Plus Contact  
  • Isolate/quarantine, either at home or in a managed facility, for 14 days from last exposure.
  • Test immediately (unless it's within 1 day of their next scheduled test), and on day 5 after lastexposure and day 12 after last exposure.
  • If symptoms develop, get an additional test immediately.
  • Their household members should stay at home until the Close Plus Contact returns a negative day 5 test result.
  • If the Close Plus Contact develops symptoms after returning a day 5 negative test result, the household member(s) should stay at home again until the Close Plus Contact returns an additional negative test result. 
  • If one or more household member(s) of the Close Plus Contact develop symptoms, they should stay at home and get a test.

*A secondary contact is a household member of a Close or Close Plus Contact.

In all situations if any contact or a household member of a Close or Close Plus Contact later develops symptoms, they should get tested, even if they have had an earlier test, and they should stay at home while awaiting the test result. 


Factsheets for contacts

These factsheets are being used by public health units to provide helpful information on COVID-19 and precautions you can take to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. The fact sheets should be read in conjunction with advice on self-isolation or staying at home and any specific advice given to you by your doctor, Healthline, public health units or your managed isolation facility.

Close Plus contacts – last updated 14 April 2021

Close contacts – last updated 14 April 2021

Casual Plus contacts  – last updated 25 February 2021

Casual contacts - last updated 16 February 2021


COVID-19 Disease Indicator Summaries

The COVID-19 Disease Indicators provide an end-to-end view of the public health response to COVID-19.

See Ongoing COVID-19 disease indicator summary reports


National Contact Tracing Solution (NCTS) – How your personal information is managed

The speed and efficiency of Contact Tracing is one of the most critical factors in a health system’s ability to slow or stop the spread of communicable diseases. The Ministry of Health identified at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic that it was essential that a national approach be taken to  the effective management of this infectious disease. It has developed a technology system called the National Contact Tracing Solution (the NCTS).

The NCTS enables accurate and timely information to be recorded, and to enable each region in New Zealand to work together when required. The NCTS enables Public Health Units (PHUs) to delegate Contact Tracing tasks to other PHUs if required, and also to the Ministry of Health’s National Investigation and Tracing Centre (NITC) for completion (primarily close contact calling and a ‘finder’ service for hard to locate Cases and Close Contacts).

For more information about the NCTS, download the Information Sheet.

The Ministry may only contact other government agencies where the agency is directly involved in the public health response and sharing the information is necessary for public health purposes during the COVID-19 pandemic. It will not be used for enforcement purposes.

National Contact Tracing Solution (NCTS) Privacy Impact Assessment

This Privacy Impact Assessment (the Assessment) reviews the process of collection, storage, use and sharing of personal and contact information associated with the core NCTS operating environment. The Ministry of Health has consulted with the Privacy Commissioner to ensure the NCTS technology solution, and the management of personal information for Contact Tracing purposes, protects your privacy.

The publication of the Assessment is to reassure the New Zealand public that the NCTS provides a secure and appropriate solution to the Contact Tracing processes to help in the national response to COVID-19:

Accessing or updating your information

Under the Privacy Act 1993, you can request a copy of any information the Ministry of Health holds about you. Further information - Current data access policy.


NZ COVID Tracer app

NZ COVID Tracer is a Ministry of Health app that supports fast and effective contact tracing by creating a digital diary of the places you visit and enables the Ministry to quickly notify you if you scanned into the same place at the same time as a COVID-19 case. 

Learn more about the NZ COVID Tracer app.

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