What is the definition of Close Contact?
What is Close Contact- COVID 19?
During my work over the past 6 months helping businesses become COVID Secure, there has been a lot of uncertainty about What is Close Contact?
The importance of knowing exactly what this term means can help individuals and businesses understand if they have been exposed to a significant risk of contracting COVID-19 or not. By understanding the definition and communicating it with your employees it can help to identify any risks and can also assure people if there is a confirmed COVID case(s) in your office.
The NHS website gives the following examples of what is close contact.
- Close face to face contact for any period of time, that was within 1 metre of each other.
- A person who has been within 2 metres of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 for more than 15 minutes
- Spending a lot of time in your home, such as cleaning it.
- Having skin to skin physical contact.
- Being coughed on
- Being spat on.
Please keep in mind the above are examples and they are where no controls such as perspex screens are in place. However, face coverings to not constitute as Personal Protective Equipment, and whilst they are proven to offer some protection, it is very subjective due to a multitude of factors.
Have I been in close contact with someone if we spoke through a screen?
No, this would not be considered a significant risk because there is a limited risk of you inhaling any aerosolised breath droplets from the person.
I walked past someone in my workplace who has since had a positive COVID result?
Unless you stopped and talked to each other with less than 1 metre, they coughed on you, or you had skin to skin contact- then this is not currently defined as Close Contact.
We all use the same equipment as the person who has had a positive COVID result.
One of my clients asked me this and I advised them to risk assessment if they felt their team were at risk, I asked the following questions.
- Which equipment was shared?
- Did every one sanitise their hands before using the equipment?
- Is the equipment sanitised between uses?
- How often was the equipment used?
- Can the users remember if they washed or sanitised their hands between uses?
What happens if I have been in close contact?
Should it be determined that anyone from your workforce has been in close contact with a person with confirmed COVID, then the following steps are recommended.
Please note, that if the instruction has come from the NHS Track and Trace service, if a person is allowed to come to work your business and the individual could face a fine.
- They are instructed to stay at home and not come to work for a minimum of 14 days even if you do not display any symptoms of COVID-19.
- A person must continue to self-isolate after this period if they are unwell.
Each scenario should be judged on a case by case basis.
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