Managing a positive case of Covid-19 in ECEC settings

There has been a significant increase in transmission of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in all states and territories over the past few weeks. With ECEC services ready to reopen their doors to children this week, and OSHC services operating for vacation care, management will be wanting to know what risk-based strategies to implement to limit the spread of COVID and know how to manage close contacts and positive cases.

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) notes that the current and expected future high caseloads of COVID-19 will necessitate a change in public health actions and policies and processes for testing, tracing, isolating and quarantining to support ‘public health sustainability, social cohesion and economic recovery’. (AHPPC- 30 December 2021.)

Our COVID-19 Management Policy outlines various strategies and procedures implemented within the service to mitigate the risk of transmission of the virus. Strategies such as handwashing, wearing of face masks, vigilant cleaning, social distancing, reducing visitors to the service and ensuring all staff and visitors are vaccinated remain valid.

What is complicated and state specific however is how to manage a positive case of COVID-19 within your service. Key points are listed below, however management should contact their state/territory regulatory authority or Public Health Office for specific guidelines on a daily/weekly basis and make adjustments to their policy as required. Ensure you communicate any changes to your families and keep accurate records of all children, staff and visitors to assist in notifying close contacts when required.

We are all aware public health resources are strained at the moment regarding identification of positive cases through PCR testing and availability of rapid antigen tests. Hopefully rapid tests will be more available in the coming weeks and assist your service manage the Omicron variant of COVID-19.


The new national definition of a COVID close contact is: a person who has spent four hours or more with a confirmed case in a household or ‘household-like’ setting. (30 December 2021).

Within an ECEC setting some states are suggesting a close contact is any person who was indoors in the centre at the same time as the case during their infectious period for more than 15 minutes. (NSW, SA).

In Victoria, any person who has spent time with a positive case (during their infectious period) on site at an ECEC service will be referred to as an ‘education contact’.


The isolation period for COVID-19 is now 7 days regardless of vaccination status. Release from isolation if PCR and/or Day 6 Rapid Antigen Test is negative

Northern Territory- Positive COVID-19 cases must be in self-isolation for 14 days


Any person who tests positive to COVID-19 must inform their workplace/employer and early childcare facility as soon as possible. If a parent or carer attended the ECEC service while infectious they must inform the service. All close contacts must get a PCR test if they have symptoms and are strongly recommended to use daily RAT for 5 days if they don’t have symptoms.

Public Health units MAY NOT contact individual people if they are deemed a close contact any longer.

The person with COVID-19 is asked to tell people they have spent time with from 2 days before they started having symptoms or tested positive (whichever came first).


When you get a positive case in your service, you must lodge a 101- health emergency notification in NQA-IT Systemwithin 24 hours.


If any person has COVID-19 symptoms they should have a standard PCR test performed at a testing clinic to confirm they have COVID-19.

Rapid antigen tests are a quick way to detect COVID-19. If the RAT has a positive result, the person should get a standard PCR test and self-isolate until they receive a negative result.

RATs can be used for children over the age of 2.


VICTORIA Managing a confirmed case of COVID-19 in early childhood education and care services
NSW Managing COVID cases
QUEENSLAND Managing a confirmed case of COVID-19

Cleaning after a COVID-19 case

SOUTH AUSTRALIA Managing a confirmed case of COVID-19

Education and Care Services

WESTERN AUSTRALIA COVID-19 Department of Education
AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY Managing a confirmed case of COVID-19 in education and care services