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When will I be the Corona contact person - and what does that actually mean?

By Carolin Berscheid | October 09, 2020, 8:33 pm

You can come into contact with a corona infected person faster than you think. But how do you have to behave then? There are different categories of contact persons for whom different measures are taken. FITBOOK explains what's behind it.

When is one considered to be a Corona contact person?

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), you are considered a Corona contact person if you had contact with a confirmed Covid 19 case (so-called "source case") in the so-called "infectious time interval". This infectious time interval is variable, however, and depends on whether the patient became symptomatic as part of the SARS-CoV-2 infection or not.

How is the “infectious time interval” determined?

Is it an infected person? With Symptoms, the infectious time interval lasts from the second day in front The first symptoms appear up to at least ten days after the onset of symptoms, or longer if the symptoms are severe or persistent.

At a asymptomaticFor the person, it depends on whether it is known which event he or she is likely to have been infected with. If there is no information on the source of the infection and if there is no special risk situation (e.g. employee in the geriatric care / clinic), the time 48 hours before the corona smear is taken as the start of the infectiousness. The end is assumed to be ten days after the swab was taken.

However, if it is known or at least very likely when you got infected from whom or what event, contacts with the infected person from the third day after this point in time are considered to be potentially infectious. At the latest, however, from the time the sample is taken. Here, too, the infectious time interval ends 10 days later.

Contact person category 1 ("higher risk of infection")

The RKI distinguishes contact persons in two different categories.


Category 1 contact person is anyone who has cumulatively had facial contact of at least 15 minutes from an infected person at a distance of less than 1.5 meters, for example during a conversation. This also includes people who live in the same household or have had contact with secretions or body fluids of the infected person, e.g. sex, kissing, coughing, sneezing, contact with vomit or mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

People who were at a greater distance from the infected person, but who were very likely exposed to a relevant concentration of aerosols, are also considered first-degree contact persons. This includes, for example, celebrating together, singing or doing sports indoors or the case that the infected person has previously been in a room for a long time (more than 30 minutes) and then has also been there afterwards.

Another special case are people in whom contact with the infected took place in a relatively cramped or difficult-to-see spatial situation.

People who sat directly next to an infected person on the plane are classified as category 1 contact persons, regardless of the flight time. Crew members or other passengers regardless of their seat are also first-degree contact persons, provided that one of the other criteria for close contact (e.g. a long conversation) are met.

Also interesting: How long can the coronavirus be detected in the body?


Category 1 contact persons are ordered to be quarantined for 14 days by the health department. Contact with other people living in the household should be reduced. If possible, there should be both temporal and spatial separation. Temporal separation means, for example, that meals are not taken together, but rather one after the other. Spatial separation can take place in that the infected person is in a different room than the rest of the household.

The health department issues a notification of the prescribed quarantine for first-degree contact persons. If the contact person is free of symptoms so far, you can submit this to the employer and then continue to receive your wages. However, if you fall ill, you have to have the doctor put you on sick leave as normal and receive the statutory sick pay from your employer.

Otherwise, the RKI advises frequent hand washing and compliance with the sneezing and coughing rules. The contact person must also take a fever twice a day and keep a diary of symptoms, body temperature, general activities and contacts with other people.

A corona test is currently carried out primarily on contact persons who also show symptoms. The responsible health department decides on a case-by-case basis whether you will be tested as an asymptomatic contact person.

The quarantine can be shortened to 10 days if a negative SARS-CoV-2 test (rapid antigen test or PCR detection) is available. However, this test may be carried out on the tenth day of the quarantine at the earliest.

What happens if there are corona symptoms?

If a contact person becomes symptomatic within 14 days of the last contact with the infected person, they are considered to be suspicious of the disease. You must now contact the health department to discuss how to proceed - such as a (repeated) corona test.

Also interesting: the typical symptoms of a corona infection

Special case: contact person or source case were already corona-positive

If the contact person was previously infected with Corona, no quarantine is required. However, self-monitoring should be carried out and, if symptoms occur, immediate self-isolation and testing. If the test is positive, the contact becomes a case again. In this situation, all measures must be taken as in other cases (including quarantine).

Another special case is also present if the confirmed source case had previously suffered from Corona and has now tested positive again. An infection with the coronavirus can sometimes be detected for weeks or even months using a PCR test in the body of the previously sick person.

The so-called Ct value is decisive for whether you and any contact persons have to be in quarantine if the test is positive again. This indicates how many cycles the PCR needs before virus genes can be detected. The lower the virus concentration in the sample, the higher this value. From a Ct value of over 30, a low virus concentration and a very low risk of infection are assumed. However, this is not stated in the test result by every test laboratory. However, if you have a positive test result with a specified Ct value of over 30, please inform the responsible health department. It will then be decided individually whether you and your contact persons have to be quarantined again.

Also interesting: Do I have to get vaccinated if I already had Corona?

Contact person category 2 ("low risk of infection")


Category 2 contacts are people who have stayed in the same room as a confirmed corona infected person, e.g. at work, but none have had facial contact with the person for at least 15 minutes and there is no other indication of an increased aerosol concentration in this room.

In the aircraft, this applies to passengers who sat in the same row as the infected person or two rows in front of or behind him, regardless of the flight time and who do not fall into category 1.


For people who fall under category 2, only the general hygiene regulations apply: They should wash their hands frequently and pay particular attention to hygiene and compliance with the cough label. However, they do not have to be in quarantine. If symptoms of illness such as cough or fever occur, those affected should contact the health department. Only then is a corona test carried out.

Special regulation: people who work in indispensable areas

A special regulation applies to people who work in so-called indispensable areas and have had contact with an infected person.


Indispensable key persons are members of professional groups whose activities serve to maintain public safety and order, as well as medical and nursing care for the population and the maintenance of central functions of public life. This includes all health care and nursing facilities as well as assistance for the disabled, child and youth welfare, public safety and order, including non-police emergency response (fire brigade, rescue service and disaster control), the safeguarding of public infrastructures, the food supply and the ability of central offices to act State, judiciary and administration.


If these key people experience symptoms, they will of course be immediately sent to quarantine at home. However, if they remain symptom-free, they can continue to work, but must strictly adhere to the hygiene regulations.

Where you can get help if you suspect Corona

If you have any questions about the coronavirus, please do not dial the emergency number 110 or 112. You can find a lot of answers and information on the website of the Robert Koch Institute at www.rki.de and those of the local health authorities.

If you have corona symptoms such as fever or a respiratory disease, the following applies: Please stay at home! You should then call your family doctor or call the emergency medical service on 116 117. There you will find all information on how to proceed.

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