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Close contact Covid rules UK: what to do if you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive

Close contact Covid rules vary across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

The UK has seen a recent sharp rise in the number of people infected with Covid-19, with varying rules in place if you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.

But what should you do if you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19?

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Here’s what you need to know.

What do I need to do if I have been in close contact with someone who has Covid?

Rules for people who have been in close contact with those with Covid vary depending on where you live in the UK.

Double-jabbed people in England who are close contacts of those who have tested positive for Covid are now being asked to take a lateral flow test every day for seven days - or 10 days since their last contact with the person who tested positive for Covid-19 if this is earlier - regardless of the strain.

However, unvaccinated adults must self-isolate for 10 days if they are a contact of someone who tests positive for Covid, regardless of strain, unless they are eligible for an existing workplace daily contact testing.

Close contact Covid rules vary across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (Photo: Shutterstock)

In Scotland, people who have come into contact with Omicron cases have to go into self-isolation for 10 days, regardless of their age or vaccination status.

Household contacts of all Covid cases now have to isolate for 10 days, regardless of vaccination status and even if they initially get a negative PCR test.

As a close contact of someone who is not in your household, you can end self-isolation if you:

  • are fully vaccinated - this means you’ve received two doses from the NHS and have had your second dose more than 14 days ago,
  • receive a negative PCR test result, and
  • do not have, or develop symptoms

Close contacts must take a PCR test as soon as possible and can then end self-isolation if this comes back negative.

If someone aged between five and 17 years old is identified as a close contact, they will need to take a PCR test - but can end self-isolation if it comes back negative.

In Wales, you have to self-isolate if you are identified as a close contact of a suspected Omicron Covid case.

Contact tracers will tell you if this is the case and you’ll be asked to take a PCR test on days two and eight of isolation.

You’ll also be asked to self-isolate and get PCR-tested if someone from your household shows Covid symptoms or tests positive.

If it’s not an Omicron case and you test negative, you can then end self-isolation but are advised to avoid contact with vulnerable people in the short term.

Other contacts of non-Omicron cases are asked to take PCR tests on days two and eight.

In Northern Ireland, if you’re a close contact of someone who has tested positive for Covid-19, self-isolation and testing requirements will depend on whether you’re fully vaccinated, your age and where you work.

If you are fully vaccinated or you have taken part in an approved Covid-19 vaccine trial, you should self-isolate immediately and book a PCR test as soon as possible.

If the PCR test is negative, isolation can stop but you should take a daily lateral flow test every day after the negative PCR result until the tenth day after your last date of contact with the positive case. The lateral flow should ideally be taken before you leave the house for the first time each day.

If you  develop symptoms, you should isolate immediately and book a PCR even if the lateral flow test is negative.

If any lateral flow test is positive you should isolate immediately and book a PCR test.