COVID-19 positive children

  • Information for parents and guardians whose child or children have tested positive to COVID-19 with a PCR test at a testing clinic or through a rapid antigen test (RAT).
  • All RAT kits contain guidance on their recommended use. Check the suitability of using the RAT on children and follow the instructions closely. Parents or guardians should perform or supervise RATs on children.
  • Positive RAT results must be registered online.

If your child/children have tested positive through a PCR test or RAT, they will need to isolate for 5 complete days from the time they took their test (not the date you received the test result). 

Refer to the following for detailed information on what to do:

Looking after your child's health

COVID-19 symptoms – what to expect

Most children will have mild or no symptoms, but they can still transmit the virus to others. Children with obesity, chronic heart, lung or neurological problems may become more unwell from COVID-19.

The Omicron strain can present with less typical symptoms such as diarrhoea, particularly in children.

Perth Children’s Hospital has a short video about caring for your child at home (external site) and what you can expect.

Fever with COVID-19

Experiencing a fever (external site) is common and expected with most viral illnesses.

If your child is happy and comfortable, their fever does not need any specific treatment.

If your child is irritable or appears uncomfortable, paracetamol and ibuprofen can be used.

Ibuprofen is best taken with food and no more than three times a day.

Paracetamol can be taken on an empty stomach up to four times a day.

You can use both at the same time or alternate between the two to allow more frequent dosing if needed.

Treatment

There is no specific treatment for COVID-19 for mild and asymptomatic infections. If your child is diagnosed with COVID-19 and is uncomfortable, you may treat them as you would with any cold or flu. This might include:

  • encouraging fluids and rest
  • feeding infants smaller amounts, more frequently
  • administering paracetamol and/or ibuprofen
  • administering saline drops for a blocked nose

Mild symptoms (rest and recover at home)

  • Runny or blocked nose
  • Fever
  • Dry cough
    • this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours
    • if your child usually has a cough, it may be worse than usual
  • Fatigue or feeling more tired than usual
    • but able to do normal age-appropriate daily activities, crawl, walk, play
  • Loss of taste and/or smell
  • Diarrhoea
  • Headache
  • Sore/scratchy throat
  • Muscle aches
  • Chills/night sweats
  • Loss of appetite, feeling sick, occasional vomiting
  • Rashes, swelling or blistering on toes or fingers.

When to see a doctor

You should contact a doctor if your child is:

  • working hard to breathe, with fast breathing or long pauses in between breaths
  • very sleepy, difficult to wake or confused
  • showing signs of dehydration (external site).
  • experiencing severe chest or abdominal pain which doesn’t go away after pain relief medication
  • experiencing persistent dizziness or headache
  • experiencing persistent fever lasting more than five days, or your baby under 3 months of age has a fever
  • experiencing pain or swelling in the legs.

Some general practices and clinics do not allow people with COVID symptoms or positive COVID cases to attend their premises in person. When you contact the clinic or practice, advise them that your child has COVID-19 and alternative arrangements to speak with or visit a doctor should be arranged.

Severe symptoms

You should call 000 if any of the following happens to your child:

  • severe shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • becoming short of breath even when resting and not moving around
    • becoming breathless when talking or finding it hard to finish sentences (if talking)
  • breathing gets worse very suddenly
  • chest pain or discomfort
  • coughing up blood
  • lips or face turning blue
  • skin cold, clammy, pale or mottled
  • severe headaches or dizziness
  • fainting or feeling like fainting often
  • unable to get out of bed independently, if age appropriate
  • confusion
  • finding it difficult to keep eyes open.

What to do

Call 000 immediately if your child gets any of these symptoms. Do not wait to see if the symptoms change.

When you call an ambulance (dial 000), let the operator know your child has COVID-19 so the paramedics know how to treat them safely.

Extra support

Parents of a child who has tested positive for COVID-19 can register their child to be considered for WA COVID Care at Home.

This free service delivers home monitoring care for COVID-positive people who require it due to having risk factors which put them at greater risk of requiring hospitalisation.

WA COVID Care at Home will enrol patients based on risk factors such as age, vaccination status, severity of symptoms, medical history and social factors.

WA COVID Care at Home patients receive calls from the health care team to check their vital health signs and welfare.

The Telethon Kids Institute’s COVID-19 Resource Hub (external site) includes fact sheets, videos and articles with helpful, science-backed advice on a range of topics.

If you have a child health check appointment while you/ your child has COVID-19 or is in isolation, you may be able to reschedule, or arrange a Telehealth appointment. Face-to-face appointments are also offered at a COVID-19 safe child health clinic in East Perth if you need to see a child health nurse during isolation.

Mental health support

When caring for a sick child, it’s normal to feel stressed, worried, and anxious, especially if you’ve not previously experienced mental health conditions before. The same is true of older children who may be concerned about what having COVID means for them.

If you or your family have pre-existing mental health conditions, the pandemic may further heighten your symptoms, and you may find they escalate and require additional care.

Talk to support persons and friends about how you are feeling. Sharing emotions often helps.

If you or anyone in your family have previously sought professional help for a mental health condition, consider touching base again and scheduling an appointment. Most mental health services have telehealth consultations available if you’re unable to attend in person.

The Mental Health Commission also offers COVID-19 information and resources (external site), including Think Mental Health (external site). The COVID-19 – Looking After Your Mental Health section has a link to a useful check-up tool (external site) and tailored support and information for Aboriginal people (external site).

You can talk to someone at Beyond Blue (1800 512 348) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – Beyond Blue has a dedicated coronavirus mental wellbeing support service that is free to use (cost of local call applies, and could be more from mobile).

Minimising the risk of COVID-19 transmission at home

When you isolate or quarantine, you must stay at your home or other accommodation unless it is for an approved reason; you must not have visitors. This is a legal requirement.

To protect others, you must:

  • Cover your cough or sneeze with your inner elbow or a tissue. Throw used tissues in the bin and wash and sanitise hands afterwards.
  • Wash hands often with soap and running water (for at least 20 seconds) or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
  • Wear a face mask at all times if you need to leave your home (e.g. to get a COVID test or to seek urgent medical attention), until you return home again.

Advice to help you protect the people you live/share accommodation with is available on the quarantine and isolation page and the How do I quarantine/isolate safely fact sheet (PDF 103KB).

If you are the parent of young children or provide care for someone you are living with, it may not be possible to meet all the recommendations to minimise contact. It is important to try and attempt what is practical and safe. For example, always wear a mask while caring for others in your household.

General advice to stay safe

  • Clean shared surfaces often (such as tabletops, doorknobs, and bathroom fixtures) with detergent and disinfectant.
  • Wash kitchen utensils in the dishwasher or thoroughly with hot soapy water after you have used them.
  • Wear a mask in shared areas or when caring for other members of your household.
  • Handle your own laundry and use the hottest setting available on the washing machine.
  • Open doors and windows to let fresh air in if safe to do so and weather permits.

Shared care

Moving children or others between households who are isolating or quarantining even for shared care arrangements should be avoided, unless there is a genuine inability for the child/ren to remain where they are for the duration of the isolation or quarantine.

Tell your workplace or education institution

Tell your contacts

To assist you in working out who they have been in contact with over the relevant period, you may like to look at your calendar, messages, bank statements, and photos on your phone, and theirs, depending on age. If they have been to a large gathering such as a party, sporting event, wedding or funeral, you should try to find out who was at the event.

You must tell any education facility your child (under 18) attended while infectious with COVID-19 of their positive result. An education facility is a school, childcare centre, early childhood education centre, school boarding house, TAFE, university, or college.

The facility will need to know to identify and inform staff, students and others who are contacts.

They will also need to know that you/your child will be unable to attend education and make necessary arrangements.

Consider your eligibility for financial or other assistance

Consider if you or your household members are eligible for financial assistance during this period:

If you have a genuine inability to obtain food or other essential supplies while isolating or quarantining, call 13 COVID (13 26843).

Last reviewed: 09-09-2022

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.