Contact tracing for COVID-19

Information on contact tracing, types of contacts and when to isolate or stay at home.

Last updated: 24 June 2021

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Contact tracing

Contact tracing is a process used to find people who may have been exposed to an infectious disease such as COVID-19.  The speed and efficiency of contact tracing is one of the most critical factors in our ability to slow or stop the spread of communicable diseases like COVID-19 in New Zealand. 

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. 

You can also visit the locations of interest page to assess if you have been exposed to the virus.

Contact tracing phone calls

Contact tracing may involve a phone call from the Ministry or a public health unit (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.

NZ COVID Tracer app notifications

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. It 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.


Types of contacts

There are three types of ‘contacts’:

  • Close Contacts
  • Casual Plus Contacts
  • Casual Contacts

If you have been identified as a Close Contact of someone with COVID-19, you are likely to be at a higher risk of being infected and you can expect to be contacted.

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

You can also visit the locations of interest page to assess if you have been exposed to the virus.

Close Contacts

Close Contacts may live or work with someone infectious with COVID-19, or have been in the same place at the same time as someone infectious with COVID-19. This may be a place described as a Location of Interest or another environment such as an airline flight, a health facility or a school. 

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

Casual Plus Contacts

Casual Plus Contacts have been in the same place (Location of Interest) at the same time, near someone infectious with COVID-19. 

For Casual Plus Contacts, their contact was where there is higher risk for transmission than Casual contacts.

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

Casual Contacts are people who have been in the same place (Location of Interest) at the same time as someone infectious with COVID-19 but may not have been near the infectious person. Casual Contacts are at lower risk of getting sick with COVID-19.

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
Close Contact People who may live or work with or have been in the same place at the same time as someone infectious with COVID-19.
  • 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.
Casual Plus Contact People who have been in the same place at the same time as someone infectious with COVID-19, but have not had enough exposure to be a Close contact.
  • 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 unless they develop symptoms.
Casual Contact People who have been in the same place at the same time as someone infectious with COVID-19, but may not have been near the person.
  • 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.

*A secondary contact is, for example, a household contact or someone that has had significant contact with a Close Contact.

Actions for secondary contacts

If you have been in contact with a person who has been asked to isolate because they were in a location of interest you do not need to stay home or get tested. However, if the contact or a household member becomes symptomatic, you need to stay at home or in your accommodation until they return a negative test result.

If you’ve been in contact with a person who has been asked to stay at home and get a test after five days, you do not need stay at home or get tested.

If you become symptomatic yourself, get tested and stay at home or in your accommodation until you receive a negative test result.

Guidance is also available on the Unite Against COVID-19 website.


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 (0800 358 5453), public health units or your managed isolation facility.

Close contacts – last updated 14 April 2021

Casual Plus contacts  – last updated 25 February 2021

Casual contacts - last updated 16 February 2021

Fact sheets for contacts are also available in other languages on Unite Against COVID-19.


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 Ministry of Health identified at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic that a national approach was essential for the effective management of this infectious disease. One of these steps was the development of the digital National Contact Tracing Solution (the NCTS). 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 NCTS enables accurate and timely information on all COVID-19 cases and contacts to be recorded, nd allows all regions of New Zealand to work together when required. The NCTS enables public health units (PHUs) to delegate contact tracing tasks to other PHUs, and the Ministry of Health’s National Investigation and Tracing Centre (NITC).

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 2020, you can request a copy of any information the Ministry of Health holds about you. For more information, read our data access policy.

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