Your Covid-19 questions answered

What is secondary Covid-19 contact, and do I need to isolate?

Kyle Zeeman Digital Editor
Do I need to isolate if I have had secondary contact with Covid-19?
Do I need to isolate if I have had secondary contact with Covid-19?
Image: Ruvan boshoff

It can be really scary when someone you know gets Covid-19, but do you need to isolate if your friend's brother gets the virus?

Dr Marlin McKay, who runs his own medical practice in Roodepoort, told TimesLIVE that people often get confused between primary and secondary contact.

“Primary contact is face-to-face contact with someone you received it from. A secondary contact would be a contact of a primary contact.

“People get confused with secondary contact. They think that they must go into quarantine because my friend's cousin has got it. You can't get it directly via a third party. Your primary contact first has to have Covid-19 before you have to worry.”

He said some patients call in a panic asking if they should isolate because their family member's friend has it, but he stressed that the virus is only passed through face-to-face interaction.

“If your primary contact has been in contact with someone who is confirmed to have Covid-19, they then need to go into quarantine.”

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) defines primary or close contact as "face-to-face contact within one metre or in a closed space for more than 15 minute".

"You will only have a laboratory test performed if you develop symptoms within 10 days of your last close contact with a person with Covid-19 who is considered infectious, i.e. able to transmit infection.

"A person with Covid-19 is considered infectious from two days before to 10 days after they became ill."


Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.