This information sheet is for parents and carers of a child with COVID-19. It will explain how to look after your child at home and how to get help if you need it.

Your child should isolate from other people in your home who do not have COVID-19 for 5 days, or up to 7 days if they still have symptoms. This includes:

  • not leaving your home
  • not having any family, friends or other visitors in your home
  • making some changes in your home to protect people at risk of severe disease.

You do not need to isolate unless you have symptoms, but you should take steps to protect people around you for 7 days. You should wear a mask indoors when not at home.

If you develop symptoms you must isolate and get tested.

You and your child should not visit high risk settings like health facilities, residential aged care and residential disability care facilities unless you need care.

What symptoms should I expect?

The majority of children with COVID-19 only have mild symptoms. It is common for children with COVID-19 not to have symptoms at any stage. The most common symptoms are:

  • fever
  • cough
  • runny nose
  • diarrhoea
  • sore throat
  • tiredness.

Occasionally, a child may have tummy pain, chest pain, headache, body aches, breathing difficulties or a loss of taste or smell.

Caring for your child at home

Most children with COVID-19 can be cared for at home.

  • dress your child in comfortable clothing so they are not sweating or shivering
  • give plenty of fluids to drink, even if they may not feel like drinking much
  • encourage rest
  • use paracetamol (Panadol) or ibuprofen (Nurofen) if your child is in pain or appears uncomfortable with a fever – follow instructions on the label
  • watch your child for signs they are getting worse.

Your child is more at risk of needing medical care if they have other health conditions such as asthma, obesity, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease or they are immuno-compromised.

QR code  Scan this QR code for helpful information to explain COVID-19 to your child.

Medical care

Seek urgent medical care if your child has

  • a fever for more than 5 days
  • difficulty breathing
  • chest pain
  • severe or worsening tummy pain
  • frequent vomiting and/or diarrhoea
  • intake of fluids or amount of urine less than half the usual amount
  • drowsiness, sleepiness or irritability.

Call 000 and inform the operator that your child has COVID-19.

Seek medical care if your child

  • is unwell and less than 3 months of age
  • has worsening symptoms
  • has a chronic illness and your doctor has told you to seek help if they get a respiratory or gastrointestinal illness
  • has declining mental health.
Call your GP
1800 960 933 (8.30am – 8.30pm) – NSW Health COVID-19 Care at Home Support Line
1800 020 080 (8.30pm – 8.30am) – National Coronavirus Helpline.

Isolating to protect others

Around the house

Your child should be separated from others in your home who do not have COVID-19 for 5 days, or up to 7 days if they still have a sore throat, runny nose, cough or shortness of breath. This includes:

  • remaining in a separate bedroom with the door closed whenever practical and safe
  • using a separate bathroom, or cleaning surfaces after use with standard cleaning products in a shared bathroom
  • using separate hand towels for drying hands
  • avoiding all shared areas such as the kitchen or living room. If your child must walk through a shared area, they should wear a surgical mask.

People who are elderly or have a serious health condition are at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Take extra care to avoid contact with people at risk.

Helpful tips

  • order groceries online or ask a friend or family member to drop food at your front door
  • wash personal household items such as towels before another person uses them
  • clean high-touch surfaces such as door handles, switches and taps often
  • try to maintain daily routines particularly around sleep and meal times
  • provide your child with plenty of fluids and healthy meals and snacks
  • reassure and encourage your child to talk to you about COVID-19 and how they are feeling
  • keep in touch with family and friends via telephone, email or social media.

Completing isolation

Your child can return to normal activity 5 days after testing positive for COVID-19. If your child continues to have symptoms such as cough, runny nose, sneezing or fever from day 6, call your GP for further advice.

Document information

Developed by

Agency for Clinical Innovation

Endorsed by

Dr Nigel Lyons, Deputy Secretary, Health System Strategy and Planning, NSW Ministry of Health.

For use by

Public and primary health care.

Current as at: Monday 26 September 2022
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW