COVID-19 update: RAT testing and close contact rule changes

6 January 2022

Queensland has adopted a nationally-agreed definition of a COVID-19 close contact, as well as applying consistent isolation periods for people who have tested positive.

What is a close contact?

Under the new definition, a close contact is a household contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case. A household contact is someone who lives with a case or has spent more than 4 hours with them in a house, accommodation or care facility. This means that unless your workers are living in the same household as a confirmed COVID-19case, they will not be considered close contacts and will not have to get tested (unless they have symptoms).

Quarantine requirements for close contacts

Close contacts must quarantine for 7 days from their date of exposure and have a negative Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) on day 6 to leave. If the day 6 RAT test is negative, isolation can end on day 7.

Following the quarantine period, for the next 7 days, close contacts should wear a mask when outside the home (such as in the workplace) monitor for symptoms, and avoid visiting high-risk settings, like aged care or hospitals.

If close contacts start to develop symptoms, they need to get a PCR test and isolate until they get the result.

Quarantine requirements for positive cases

A confirmed COVID-19 case must isolate for 7 days from the date they tested positive. A RAT test is no longer required on day 6 and you can leave isolation on day 7 if you haven't had symptoms for the last 48 hours or if the only remaining symptom is a very mild dry cough which is persistent but not getting worse. If you’ve tested positive via a RAT test, you are no longer required to get a PCR test to confirm your status.

Anyone who is currently in quarantine as close contacts can leave if they are past 7 days and have had a negative day 6 test.

The current advice from Queensland Health is if you are fit and healthy and have only mild symptoms, they recommend you avoid hospitals, stay at home and perform a RAT test if possible.

What does this mean for the workplace?

This means that unless your workers are living in the same household or have spent more than four hours in a household-like setting as a confirmed COVID-19 case, they will not be considered close contacts and will not have to get tested (unless they have symptoms).

If one of your workers is confirmed with COVID-19, none of your workers will need to isolate unless they are a household or household-like contact of the infected worker. However, you should encourage all workers to monitor symptoms, stay home, and get tested if they are unwell.

If one of your workers is a household or household-like contact of a COVID-19 positive person, they will need to follow the isolation and testing rules and then only return to work once a negative RAT or PCR test is returned. When they return, they should wear a mask (for an additional 7 days) and monitor symptoms, and get tested if they become unwell.

FAQS

Where can I get a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT)

Queensland Health testing sites will have RATs for close contacts and for people with symptoms.

If you are not a close contact and you do not have symptoms, you need to source a RAT from the private sector, for example, a pharmacy.

Do unvaccinated people have to isolate for longer?

No. All people who test positive, regardless of vaccination status, will need to isolate for 7 days from the date they were tested.

Does a close contact need to be tested straight away?

No. Close contacts must isolate for 7 days from the date of exposure and have a negative RAT on day 6. Symptomatic close contacts must get a PCR test.

More information

Contact our expert advisory teams who are on hand to assist with more information, advice or support for your business, or visit the Queensland Health website for more information about the latest rule changes.

Major Sponsors

BUSSQ Truecore and Colorbond logos QLeave Construction Skills Queensland