Process following a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19

26 August 2020

What happens if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 linked to a tertiary provider?

If there is a confirmed or probable case linked with a tertiary education or accommodation facility, the provider will be advised of this by the Medical Officer of Health or their local public health authority.

If a tertiary provider becomes aware of a case associated with their education or accommodation facility and they haven’t yet received notification from health authorities, they should immediately contact Gillian Dudgeon or Sandra Ramsay at the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) and their local public health unit (Public health unit contacts).

Upon advice from the local medical officer of health, any educational facilities connected to a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19 should close on an individual or group basis, for as long as directed by that medical officer of health.

If the person or persons who are a confirmed or probable case have worked in or attended the education or accommodation facility when they could have been infectious (which could start up to 2 days prior to having symptoms) these facilities will likely be closed for at least 72 hours to allow time for contact tracing and for cleaning/sanitising, in line with Ministry of Health guidelines.

Types of ‘contacts’ and who needs to self-isolate?

Confirmed case: Someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 after returning a positive lab test.

Probable case: Regardless of any test result, someone is considered by the public health service to have COVID-19 if their symptoms and clinical history indicate their illness is more likely to be COVID-19 than anything else.

Close contact: Close contacts are those that are likely to be at a higher risk of being infected. In other words someone who has been physically near to a person with COVID-19 for enough time to put them at increased risk of catching the illness. Someone is generally considered a close contact if they have been within 2 metres of a confirmed or probable case for 15 minutes or longer. 

Close contacts are required to self-isolate and will need to monitor for symptoms.

Casual contact: The technical definition of a casual contact is: “Any person with exposure to the case who does not meet the criteria for a close contact.” For example, someone who attended the same venue as a person confirmed with COVID-19, but isn’t considered a close contact. 

Casual contacts do not need to self-isolate but as we all are asked to do, will need to monitor for symptoms and get tested if recommended to do so.

Household contacts: Anyone living in the same household as a case e.g. immediate and extended family members (including children in shared care arrangements), boarders, flatmates, visitors.

The Ministry of Health has further information on their website about contact tracing.

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