Caring for a child with COVID-19 at home

Most children with COVID-19 will experience milder symptoms than adults and are less likely to develop severe illness. This means, a child with mild symptoms and no other health conditions that could place them at risk, can often be safely cared for at home by their parents or carers under a ‘self-care’ model.  Children identified as potentially being at risk of more serious illness may also be cared for at home, but with the support of a GP or other healthcare provider.

Please seek medical advice if you have any concerns about your child’s condition.

How do I know if my child can be cared for at home?

If you’re unsure if your child can be safely cared for at home, you can use Queensland Health’s online COVID care self-checker.

It’s a clinical self-assessment tool designed to help you understand what level of care your child needs based on their symptoms and other risk factors.

Once you complete the questions, you’ll receive the recommended next steps and self-care information.

interpreter symbolIf you require an interpreter, call the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080.

Stopping the spread

If your child has COVID-19 they must isolate at home for 7 full days from the date of their positive test. Isolating your child will help stop the spread of COVID-19 to other people.

Your child can only leave isolation after 7 days if they have no symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g. fever, sore throat, runny nose) or if the only remaining symptoms are a very mild dry cough which is persistent but not getting worse, mild fatigue or loss of sense of smell. Your child does not need a COVID-19 test to leave isolation.

Other members of your household should follow the close contact requirements and monitor for symptoms.

If other people in your household test positive while your child is in isolation, your child can still leave isolation after 7 days, but they must continue to isolate.

Learn more about preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the home.

Monitoring your child’s health

While your child is isolating and being cared for at home, you should monitor their condition regularly. It’s possible they may have mild symptoms at first, but could become sicker over time. You know your child better than anyone else, and may notice even slight changes in their behaviour. Always trust your instincts and seek medical advice if you have any concerns.

Ask the following questions three times a day (i.e. morning, afternoon and night):

  • Are they feeling well and behaving normally?
  • Are they eating?
  • Are they drinking enough fluids?
  • Are they urinating (weeing) less than normal?
  • Are they breathing normally?

If you notice any of the above changes in your child, or are concerned that they are becoming more unwell:

  • Call the National Coronavirus (COVID) Helpline: 1800 020 080.

Paediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome
Most children and young people will not become seriously unwell with COVID-19, but a very small number (less than 0.5 %) around the world have developed paediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome (PIMS-TS) where different parts of the body become inflamed. This usually occurs between two to four weeks after infection and most children will recover fully. However, please seek medical help immediately by calling 000 if your child has discoloured or blotchy skin, skin that is very pale or bluish, trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, seems confused or you are unable to wake them or keep them awake.

If your child develops other health issues while in isolation:

  • Call your usual GP or local health service.

When to seek urgent help

Call triple zero (000) and ask for an ambulance if your child:

  • collapses or faints
  • is having difficulty breathing
  • has chest pain
  • has severe or worsening abdominal pain
  • has stopped urinating or is urinating much less than usual.
  • is drowsy or sleepy.

Please tell the 000 operator that your child is COVID-19 positive in home isolation.

Your child might need to be admitted to hospital if their symptoms get worse.

Even if your child’s symptoms are mild, they might have to be admitted to hospital or a virtual care service if:

  • they have a chronic health condition or a disability and need extra support
  • it’s hard to isolate them safely from others in your home
  • you live a long way from a hospital.

Coping with isolation

Helping your child recover from COVID-19 and get through the isolation period can be challenging. Try these tips to help manage this time:

  • Maintain a daily routine as much as possible.
  • Ensure your child enjoys some physical activity each day.
  • Encourage your child to talk to you about COVID-19 and share any concerns. Here’s how to start the conversation.
  • If your child is anxious or stressed, encourage them to take some time for mindfulness and relaxation – see the Relaxing with Birdie book and video.
  • Make time for fun activities – see the ‘Fun with Birdie’ activity book.
  • Stay in touch with friends and family via phone or video-conferencing (Skype, Zoom etc) to reduce the feeling of social isolation.

Need more information?

Call 134 COVID – 13 42 68

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Quick links

Latest news and advice
Queensland Health: COVID-19
Queensland Health: COVID-19 translated resources
Queensland Government: Unite Against COVID-19
Australian Government: COVID-19 Health Alerts
COVID-19 vaccines

Queensland Health COVID care self-checker

Health advice
over the phone

(13 42 68)

In an emergency, always call 000 and ask for an ambulance.

Birdie gets her vaccination