Contact tracing for COVID-19

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

Last updated: 21 December 2021

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Contact tracing

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.

Daily follow up health checks

By phone: These 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.

By email: These emails will come from [email protected] with the subject line “COVID-19 Daily Survey for Disease Contact”. You may need to check your junk mail. These are automated so you are not required to reply to the email, instead you will need to click on the link to complete the health check questions. It is very important that you complete these surveys each day.

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. 

An app notification is a simple way of making you aware of any risk of exposure to COVID-19.

A yellow QR notification may be received as a result of scanning QR codes with the NZ COVID Tracer app. A yellow notification means you have scanned into a location of interest around the same time as a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19 and you may have been exposed to the virus. The notification will tell you what to do and it is important that you follow these instructions.

An orange notification may be received if you have Bluetooth activated in the app. Any person who receives an orange Bluetooth notification via the NZ COVID Tracer app is considered a Close Contact as they have been in close proximity to a confirmed or probable case and may have been exposed to the virus. The alert will tell you what to do - it is important that you follow these instructions. Information on how to contact Healthline if you are deaf or hard of hearing can be found at COVID-19: Information and advice for the deaf community.

Learn more about the NZ COVID Tracer app.


Types of contacts

There are three types of ‘contacts’:

  • Close Contacts
  • Casual Plus Contacts (only in some specific circumstances, eg schools)
  • 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 by someone from the Ministry of Health’s National Investigation and Tracing Centre or a PHU.

In some specific situations, Casual Plus Contacts may also be contacted by the Ministry of Health’s National Investigation and Tracing Centre.

There are section 70 orders that require both those who have visited a location of interest during the relevant time, and their household contacts, to isolate at home and call Healthline for advice. Read the section 70 public health orders.

Close Contacts

Household members of a case are Close Contacts.

Other people who are identified as Close Contacts may live, work or have been in the same place at the same time as someone who is infectious with COVID-19, for example, they have may travelled on a plane, stayed over at the house or sit near someone at work who is a positive COVID-19 case.

Any person who receives an orange Bluetooth notification via the NZ COVID Tracer app is considered a Close Contact. The notification will provide advice about what to do and it is important to follow these instructions. 

These people may also receive a yellow QR notification for a location of interest via the NZ COVID Tracer app.

Casual Plus Contacts

Casual Plus Contacts are unvaccinated people who have been in the same place at the same time, or near someone infectious with COVID-19. This will only be in some specific situations like at a school.  

Casual Contacts

Casual Contacts are 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 infectious person. Casual Contacts are at lowest risk of getting sick with COVID-19.

These people may receive a yellow QR notification for a location of interest via the NZ COVID Tracer app. The notification will provide advice about what to do and a link for more information.

Actions for contacts

Contact

Description

Actions for the contact

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.

  • If you are not fully vaccinated or are a household member of a case, isolate/quarantine, either at home or in a managed facility, for 10 days from last exposure.
  • Test immediately, and on day 5 and on day 8 after last exposure.
  • If you are fully vaccinated*, isolate/quarantine, either at home or in a managed facility, for 7 days from last exposure.
  • Test immediately, and on day 5 after last exposure.
  • If COVID-19 symptoms develop, get an additional test immediately.

Casual Plus Contact

Unvaccinated** 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.
  • Stay at home for 7 days from last exposure, get a test immediately and on Day 5 after last exposure and remain at home until a negative day 5 test result is received. 
  • Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms for 10 days.
  • If COVID-19 symptoms develop after day 5, get a test immediately and stay at home until negative test result is received.

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-19 symptoms for 10 days.
  • If COVID-19 symptoms develop, get tested and stay at home until negative test result is received.

* Fully vaccinated is greater than or equal to 7 days since receiving the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

** Unvaccinated is either no dose, one dose or < 7 days since receiving the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.    

Actions for household members of Close contacts (also called Secondary contacts)

If someone in your household or bubble is a Close contact, and they are unvaccinated, and they have been asked to isolate then their:

  • Fully vaccinated household members (Secondary contacts) do not have to take any special precautions
  • Unvaccinated household members (Secondary contacts) do not need to isolate or stay at home, but they should avoid health care facilities (phone ahead to facility if seeking health care), aged residential care facilities, disability care facilities, and correctional facilities until the Primary Close contact has returned a day 5 negative test. 
  • If the Secondary contact works in one of these settings, their employer may do a risk assessment to allow them to return to work.
  • Secondary contacts should follow public health measures when outside their home by minimising contact with others outside of their household bubble until the Primary Close contact has returned a negative day 5 test and wearing a face covering when in shared indoor settings outside their home.

If the Primary Close contact develops symptoms, it is recommended that their Secondary contacts (either vaccinated or unvaccinated) should stay at home until the Primary Close contact returns an additional negative test.

If any Secondary contact (either vaccinated or unvaccinated) develops symptoms, they should test and stay at home (or in current accommodation) until negative test result AND until 24 hours after symptoms resolve.

Guidance can also be found 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 15 November 2021

Casual contacts – last updated 15 November 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 and 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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