Coronavirus (COVID-19): contact tracing
You may have Coronavirus (COVID-19) and pass it on without knowing. Contact tracing can help prevent the further spread of infections by letting people know if they have been in close contact with someone with the virus, so they can avoid passing it on.
How contact tracing works
If you test positive for coronavirus (COVID-19),the Public Health Agency's (PHA) contact tracing service aims to alert people you have been in close contact with, so they can get tested and avoid passing the virus on.
After you receive your positive test result, you will receive two text messages:
- one with a code to update the StopCovidNI app if you have it on your phone
- one with a code to allow you to complete the Digital Self-Trace (DST) service
If you don’t complete the Digital Self-Trace service, a contact tracer from the PHA will call you to work through some questions and identify your close contacts. If you don’t answer the phone, they will leave a voice message and call you back. They will usually try at least three times to reach you.
The PHA will then get in touch with your close contacts by text message or phone to advise them that they have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 and provide advice on what they need to need to do. They won’t tell them any of your details.
StopCOVID NI app
You will receive a text message after your positive test result from ‘HSCresult’ with a test code to add to the StopCOVID NI app, if you have it.
The StopCOVID NI proximity app anonymously warns other app users, who you don’t know or who may not be warned through the DST service or by manual contact tracers, that they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.
Further information on the app and how to download it is available at:
Once you let the app know you have tested positive, it will send out an alert to other app users who have been in close contact with you.
The code in the text message from ‘HSCresult’ is for app users only. If you do not have the app, you will not need to use this code.
Digital Self-Trace (DST) to share contacts
You will receive another text message from ‘HSCtracing’ for the Digital Self-Trace (DST) service, with a code for you to help the PHA trace your contacts.
The PHA can then warn your close contacts as quickly as possible that they might have become infected and give them guidance.
Enter the DST code on the HSC website:
You'll be asked for some information about:
- yourself and your symptoms
- the people you've been in contact with
- the places you have been
If you can’t use the DST service or you choose not to, a contact tracer will try to call you from the telephone number 028 9536 8888 to get all the details needed to protect others and reduce the spread of COVID-19. They will ask for the same information as the digital service.
Your details will not be shared with those whose details you provide. The information you give will only be used for the purpose of contact tracing and learning about the disease.
Additional information and resources
For information about how the service works and how it protects your privacy, see:
If you have been identified as a close contact of someone with the virus, you will receive a text message from ‘HSCtracing’ with guidance about self-isolating and booking a PCR test.
If you receive an alert on the StopCovid app, you may need to self-isolate for 10 days and should book a test. Find out who needs to self-isolate at:
You should follow this advice immediately. Find out how to book a PCR test at:
Contact tracing in schools
You can find information about contact tracing in schools on the Public Health Agency website at this link:
Contact tracing guidance for the hospitality industry
Guidance for the hospitality industry in Northern Ireland on maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to help support Test, Trace and Protect is available on the Department of Health website.