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Definitions of COVID-19 cases and close contacts

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Here are the definitions of suspected, probable and confirmed cases of COVID-19, and definition of close contacts.

Here are the definitions of suspected, probable and confirmed cases of COVID-19, and definition of close contacts.


Suspected COVID-19

A person with acute respiratory tract infection and one or more of the following clinical criteria; fever, cough, shortness of breath, loss of sense of smell/taste, or who is considered by a doctor to have suspected COVID-19.

Probable COVID-19

A close contact to a confirmed case who meets the clinical criteria for COVID-19.

The category is used when it is not possible to carry out testing, or if the test result is delayed and the probability of infection is high.

A probable case should be handled in the same way as a confirmed case. Household members and equivalent close contacts should be in quarantine, but it is not necessary for contact tracing of other close contacts.

Confirmed COVID-19

A person with COVID-19 confirmed by RT-PCR test.

Close contacts 

From 13.08.2020, all close contacts shall be in quarantine, and there is no longer a distinction between the types of close contact.

"Close contacts" mean people who have been in close contact with a person with confirmed COVID-19 disease from 48 hours before symptom onset (for people without symptoms, from 48 hours before they were tested) and until that person comes out of isolation.

All close contacts shall now be in quarantine. In some situations it may be useful to differentiate between "household members and equivalent close contacts" and "other close contacts". The person responsible for contact tracing decides to which category the person belongs after assessing the infection risk.

The infection risk is affected mostly by the amount and degree of physical proximity. In addition, it depends whether the infected person coughs or sneezes a lot, if they share a limited amount of indoor air and whether the contact occurred during the most contagious period early in the disease course.

Household members or equivalent close contacts

  • Live in the same household.

  • Have had similar close contact as someone in a household (examples can include boyfriend/girlfriend, nearby work colleagues in an open plan office, same cohort in childcare centre or school (up to and including 4th grade). 

  • Have cared for, or had similar close contact, with a a person with confirmed COVID-19, without using the recommended protective equipment.

Other close contacts

  • Indoors: closer than 2 metres for more than 15 minutes continuously with a person with confirmed COVID-19 disease.

  • Outdoors: closer than 2 metres for more than 15 minutes continuously, face-to-face, with a person with confirmed COVID-19 disease.

  • Have been in direct physical contact with (e.g. shaken hands) with a person with confirmed COVID-19 disease.

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Facts

Coronavirus

SARS-CoV-2 is the name of the virus that is causing the outbreak of COVID-19 disease.

The virus is related to another coronavirus that caused the SARS outbreak in 2002/2003 but is not the same virus.