​To avoid infection and prevent the spread of COVID-19, children and families should: 

  • practice good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene
  • stay home if they have travelled overseas or are unwell.

Last updated: 16 March 2020

What is the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?

COVID-19 is a new viral respiratory illness that was first reported in mainland China. Cases have since been reported in many countries overseas and within Australia.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can make humans and animals sick. They cause illnesses that can range from the common cold to more severe respiratory diseases.

How is it spread?

The virus can be spread from person to person from infected people, through coughing or sneezing. It can also spread through contact with contaminated hands, surfaces or objects.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptoms are fever, cough, sore throat and runny nose. People may also develop more severe respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia (chest infection) and shortness of breath. Symptoms can take up to 14 days to develop after exposure.  Most healthy people will experience mild symptoms and recover over a few days. Others, especially those with ongoing health issues, may experience severe illness.

Who is at risk?

  • People who have recently travelled overseas.
  • People who have been in close contact with other confirmed cases are at greatest risk of catching the disease.
  • The elderly and people with ongoing medical conditions (such as diabetes, lung disease, kidney disease, or supressed immunity) are at particular risk of severe illness if they contract COVID-19.

Is my child at risk?

Children are at the same risk of contracting COVID-19 as adults. Children are more likely to have a milder illness, and some may not have any symptoms. It is still important to monitor for symptoms and arrange testing if they develop symptoms after travel overseas, or after close contact with a confirmed case. This is especially important to help prevent spread in your family and community.  

How can I protect my family from coronavirus?

To avoid infection and prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses, children and families should practice good hand hygiene and sneeze/cough hygiene with your family:

  • Clean your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. Alcohol-based hand rub is a suitable alternative if used and stored safely around children.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with tissue or a flexed elbow and dispose of used tissues in a lined bin. Clean your hands afterwards.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.

Should I keep my child home if they have travelled overseas?

Yes. If your child has travelled overseas they should stay isolated at home for 14 days after they return. If they develop flu-like symptoms, you should call your doctor to arrange testing or go directly to a COVID-19 clinic or emergency department.

Should I keep my child home if they are unwell?

Yes. If your child develops any flu-like symptoms or other illnesses, keep them home until they are well. This will ensure that they do not spread infections to children in their early childhood education and care service. Notify the service and see your doctor.

How can I reduce the impact of influenza this winter?

Ensure you and your family receive the 2020 seasonal influenza vaccine to protect against influenza and help reduce the severity and spread of influenza this winter. All children aged from 6 months to under 5 years are eligible for free influenza vaccine. Contact your GP to arrange an appointment.

Further information

COVID-19 - Frequently asked questions​​

Page Updated: Monday 16 March 2020
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW