Contact tracing is an established method to help prevent the further spread of infections such as COVID-19, and we are now using this approach to help prevent the spread of the virus.
We also protect the wider community by asking those who have already tested positive for COVID-19 to tell us about their close contacts – so we can warn their close contacts as quickly as possible that they might have become infected and give them guidance.
In Northern Ireland you can protect yourself by using the StopCOVID NI app (https://covid-19.hscni.net/stop-covid-ni-mobile-app/) that alerts you if you have been in close contact with someone who have tested positive to COVID-19.
When you test positive for COVID-19, you will get two SMS (text) messages from us.
These messages are to help with contact tracing in Northern Ireland.
The first message is to let the StopCovid NI (proximity app) know you have tested positive and to share that information anonymously with people you come into contact with who also have the app installed.
For more information about receiving a close contact alert from StopCOVID NI please visit https://covid-19.hscni.net/stop-covid-ni-mobile-app/
Help us trace your contacts
The second SMS message is to invite you to use the HSCNI Help us trace your contacts service which allows you to enter your details quickly, efficiently and digitally.
You can find this service at: https://trace.covid-19.hscni.net
We will send everyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 a code number.
And the SMS will look like this:
You will find the six-digit code in the bottom part of the SMS message.
You cannot enter your details without a code.
Please wait until you have received the code before you attempt to access the service.
Can I trust it?
This message has been sent from HSCNI with the sole purpose to invite you to provide the details of your close contacts, your workplaces and other places you might have been while infectious with COVID-19.
We can then reach out to those contacts and warn them to take extra precautions.
Did I sign up for this?
Everyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 will receive this message inviting them to use the digital service.
If you choose not to – or cannot – use the digital service, we will also try to call you to ensure we have all the details we need to protect others.
What do you mean by contacts?
We need you to:
- tell us about the people you have been in close contact with (see below ‘What is meant by close contact?’).
- tell us about places you have worked.
- tell us about any other times where you might have come into contact with people.
Remember two things:
To protect your identity, we will not share your details with those whose details you will provide.
We will only use the information you have given for the purpose of contact tracing and learning about the disease. Nothing else.
What do I need to put in?
As much information as you can provide – anything is helpful.
We will need at least names and telephone numbers (if you have them) of those you have been in close contact with.
What is meant by close contact?
Close contacts are:
- people you spend 15 minutes or more with, at a distance of less than two metres.
- people you have direct contact with – such as household members, sexual partners or people with whom you have had face-to-face conversations at a distance of less than one metre.
The contact must have taken place between two days before and up to seven days after symptoms appeared.
Close contact SMS
For more information about receiving a close contact SMS please visit https://covid-19.hscni.net/closecontact/
Close contact alert from StopCOVID NI
For more information about receiving a close contact alert from StopCOVID NI please visit https://covid-19.hscni.net/guidance/stopcovid-ni-notifications-explained/
Why are we contact tracing?
The purpose of contact tracing services is to track and prevent further spread of infections by identifying people who may have come into contact with an infected person.
By collecting further information about people who have been in contact with someone with COVID-19, we can notify them to self-isolate.
Contact tracing will protect the community, save lives and help us to avoid a future lockdown.
Find out more about contact tracing at https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/covid-19-coronavirus/testing-and-tracing-covid-19/contact-tracing-faqs
What should I do if I’ve been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19?
- Self-isolate for 10 days: As you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you should self-isolate for 14 days from when you were in contact with that person. Book a test only if you develop symptoms. A negative result does not mean you can end you self-isolation period.
- Monitor your health: If you develop a continuous cough, high temperature or loss of taste or smell, you should book a test.
- If you start to develop COVID-19 symptoms you should continue to self-isolate and book a test https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-testhttps://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test
What should I do if I’ve been in close contact with someone who is a self-isolating (as they have been a close contact of someone who has COVID-19 symptoms or has tested positive)?
If the person you have been in contact with, who is self-isolating, has not developed symptoms or tested positive for COVID-19, you and other members of your household do not need to self-isolate. You should continue to social distance and stay at home as much as possible.
If they develop COVID-19 symptoms, or have a positive test, you should self-isolate for 10 days from when you were in contact with them.
If you start to develop COVID-19 symptoms you should self-isolate for 10 days, from the day when you develop symptoms and book a test.
- Monitor your health: As you have been in contact with someone who has coronavirus symptoms, you should start to monitor your own health. If you develop a continuous cough, high temperature or loss of taste or smell, you should self-isolate immediately.
- Follow government advice: If you do not have symptoms you do not need to self-isolate. If you have to leave your house for essential travel, you should follow current government advice on social distancing.