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Source of Infection

How do we define overseas vs local acquisition?

State and territory totals reflect where a person has been tested and public health management occurred.

Overseas acquired
The person was infected while overseas (including at sea).

Locally acquired - known contact
The person was infected in Australia through contact with someone confirmed to have COVID-19.

Locally acquired - unknown contact
The person was infected in Australia, but the source of infection is not known.

Locally acquired - interstate travel
The person was infected in Australia, but not in the reporting jurisdiction.
VIC DH does not include interstate acquired when counting days since the last local case.

Under investigation
The source of infection has not yet been determined, but is currently being investigated through public health actions.

Source: Australian Government Department of Health

Unknown Source

What is a mystery case?

If contact tracers can't find the source of someone's infection after a full investigation, they record the case as having an unknown source. These cases are sometimes termed as mystery cases, community transmission or locally acquired - source not identified.

It might take a couple of days before cases are moved from under investigation to contact not identified.

Under Investigation

What is a case under investigation?

If there's no clear link to a confirmed case or cluster, the contact tracing team launches an investigation. This involves going back through every recent interaction to try and find out how the person contracted the virus.

Active Cases

How are active cases calculated?

Active cases are calculated as: total confirmed cases excluding persons recovered and lives lost.
This rule can differ between jurisdictions.

NSW Health

NSW Health

From February 27, active cases are defined as people who have tested positive for COVID-19, are in isolation and are being clinically monitored by NSW Health. A person will no longer be an active case when they are clinically released from isolation.


Department of Health Victoria

When the LGA is not yet known it will not show in the active numbers.
A small number of cases that are not contactable are considered to have recovered after 28 days from diagnoses.

QLD Health

Queensland Health

Each day, total cases may not equal active plus recovered plus deaths, as information for some cases is still pending and will be updated in due course.


How long does it take a case to recover?

Cases can be released from isolation if they meet the appropriate criteria:


10 days since the first positive test and no symptoms

Mild Illness

10 days since onset of symptoms and 72 hours with no symptoms


14 to 20 days since onset of symptoms and 72 hours with no symptoms


7 days since onset of symptoms and at least two negative tests 24 hours apart

Source: CDNA National guidelines

Complex Cases

What is a complex case?

Complex cases usually involve high risk workplace settings and are closely monitored by the health department.

Historical Cases

What is a probable case?

Probable cases are detected after antibodies of the virus are detected in blood samples through serology testing.
These are considered to be historical cases that do not carry any ongoing risk to the public or require any further investigation.


What are reclassifications?

Reclassifications can occur for a number of reasons, but the most common are false-positives and duplication.
Duplicate entries may occur when a confirmed case has multiple health professionals reporting positive test results.

COVID LIVE track both the 'net' movement of cases in the history, and 'new' on the home page and in data sources.


How is the number of tests calculated?

Test numbers reflect the number of tests processed and results received in the last 24 hours.
They do not reflect the number of swabs taken. Tests may have been conducted over several days prior.

Queensland Health are the only department reporting the number of 'persons tested' in addition.

NSW Health is different to how tests are counted. Multiple tests on the same person on any one day are only counted as one test, regardless of the results.