Revised case definitions for COVID 19

National Centre for Disease Control
Directorate General of Health Services
MoHFW, GOI, New Delhi


The updated case definitions and contact-categorisation

It has been observed that WHO has recently updated the case definitions based on the current information available and will be revised as new information accumulates. India may also need to adapt case definitions depending on current epidemiological situation. Based on the available information on COVID-19, the following case definitions are put forth for approval:

Suspect Case:

A patient with acute respiratory illness {fever and at least one sign/symptom of respiratory disease (e.g., cough, shortness of breath)}, AND a history of travel to or residence in a country/area or territory reporting local transmission (See NCDC website for updated list) of COVID-19 disease during the 14 days prior to symptom onset;


A patient/Health care worker with any acute respiratory illness AND having been in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case in the last 14 days prior to onset of symptoms;


A patient with severe acute respiratory infection {fever and at least one sign/symptom of respiratory disease (e.g., cough, shortness breath)} AND requiring hospitalization AND with no other etiology that fully explains the clinical presentation;


A case for whom testing for COVID-19 is inconclusive.

Laboratory Confirmed case:

A person with laboratory confirmation of COVID-19 infection, irrespective of clinical signs and symptoms.

Updated definition of contact:

A contact is a person that is involved in any of the following:

  • Providing direct care without proper personal protective equipment (PPE) for COVID-19 patients
  • Staying in the same close environment of a COVID-19 patient (including workplace, classroom, household, gatherings).
  • Traveling together in close proximity (1 m) with a symptomatic person who later tested positive for COVID-19.

High Risk Contact:

  • Touched body fluids of the patient (Respiratory tract secretions, blood, vomit, saliva, urine, faeces)
  • Had direct physical contact with the body of the patient including physical examination without PPE.
  • Touched or cleaned the linens, clothes, or dishes of the patient.
  • Lives in the same household as the patient.
  • Anyone in close proximity (within 3 ft) of the confirmed case without precautions.
  • Passenger in close proximity (within 3 ft) of a conveyance with a symptomatic person who later tested positive for COVID-19 for more than 6 hours.

Low Risk Contact:

  • Shared the same space (Same class for school/worked in same room/similar and not having a high risk exposure to confirmed or suspect case of COVID-19).
  • Travelled in same environment (bus/train/flight/any mode of transit) but not having a high-risk exposure.
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