How does COVID-19 affect children?

Most children with COVID-19 will only experience a mild illness or will have no symptoms at all and can safely remain at home without the need for medical support.

Common COVID-19 symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Diarrhoea and lethargy
  • Loss of taste or smell

As with all viruses, your child is more at risk if they have other medical conditions such as asthma, obesity, diabetes; inflammatory bowel disease or they are immune-compromised.

How should I care for my child at home?

When caring for your child at home, it’s recommended you:

  • give your child small amounts of fluid, often. They may not feel like drinking much so may need your help and encouragement
  • offer your child food regularly
  • encourage rest
  • use paracetamol or ibuprofen only if you think your child is in pain or appears uncomfortable with fever. Do not give more than the recommend dosage and check with your medical professional if your child is taking other regular medication.

What if my child needs medical support?

You can access health support via the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080 (available 24 hours, 7 days) or your usual GP.

For those who need extra care, COVIDKids is a dedicated South Australian service for children and young people with COVID-19, managed by specialist staff at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital. Your GP will assist you with referring children to this service.

If your child is displaying any of the following symptoms or signs, please call Triple Zero (000)

  • Difficult, or fast breathing
  • Pale or mottled skin colour
  • Excessive drowsiness or confusion
  • Persistent fever higher than 38 degrees Celsius, which does not reduce after giving paracetamol or ibuprofen
  • Poor fluid intake, or reduced frequency of feeds (for infants)
  • Reduced urine or wet nappies
  • Chest pain
  • Severe or worsening abdominal pain
  • Frequent vomiting and or diarrhoea
  • Decreased appetite

What is COVIDKids?

COVIDKids is a referral only service that gives children, young people and their carers direct access to experienced paediatric nurses and doctors at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital who can provide extra support to those who need it.

The expert COVIDKids team will virtually assess children with COVID-19 and offer support and medical advice to families in their own home.

For more information, visit the Women’s and Children’s Hospital COVIDKids website.

How long does a child who tests positive need to isolate?

All people who test positive to COVID-19 must isolate for 7 days after the positive COVID-19 test was taken.

This means they must not attend childcare or school settings.

Your child can only leave isolation after 7 days if they do not have acute symptoms, including a sore throat, runny nose, cough, or shortness of breath.

If your child has symptoms including a sore throat, runny nose, cough, or shortness of breath in the last 24 hours of their isolation, please keep them in isolation until 24 hours after their symptoms have resolved.

If your child is not getting better or you have concerns, contact your GP or the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080.

After your child receives their positive PCR test result, they do not need to be tested again and do not need to have a clearance test. This includes PCR and rapid antigen tests. This is because the virus can sometimes be detected on PCR swabs for up to 3 months after the infection, due to shedding of the virus.

Your child can return back to school once they have been cleared even if other family members are in quarantine. They will need to be transported by someone who is not in quarantine or isolating or can seek public transport.

What do the child’s close contacts need to do?

Close contacts of children who test positive to COVID-19 need to follow the advice for close contacts.

Specific advice applies if you or your child are exposed to a positive COVID-19 case in a preschool, early childhood or school setting.

More information about classroom contacts and exposure in education settings is available on the Department for Education website.