Getting your child tested

Wondering what to expect when your child is tested for COVID-19 test and how to explain it to them? Here are the answers to the some of the most commonly asked questions about kids and COVID-19 tests.

In Queensland, anyone who has the following symptoms should be tested, no matter how mild:

  • fever (or history of fever) OR respiratory symptoms (cough, sore throat, shortness of breath). Children may also experience other symptoms, such as runny nose, headache, loss of smell, loss of taste, nausea or vomiting, muscle pain, joint pain, fatigue, diarrhoea, or a loss of appetite. Symptoms can vary depending on each case.
  • People in quarantine, in accordance with current quarantine protocols.
  • Contacts of confirmed or suspect cases.
  • If you are concerned that your child may have COVID-19 and requires medical treatment, please take them to the your nearest Emergency Department.
    Call emergency services on 000 if your child is very sick.
If your child has any COVID-19 symptoms, they can get tested by a GP, a Commonwealth Respiratory Clinic, or at public and private hospitals where fever clinics have been established.

General practice

General practice doctors, or GPs, can do COVID-19 testing or arrange it through private pathology providers, or they will refer you to another facility (like a pathology collection centre) for a test. Some GP clinics are now also offering special COVID-19 testing clinics.

Respiratory clinics

The Commonwealth has funded general practices to establish specialised respiratory clinics for people with respiratory symptoms to be assessed and tested as required separate from regular GP waiting and consulting rooms. There is no cost to individuals attending these clinics.


Most hospitals can test for COVID-19 and some have fever clinics set up specifically for this purpose. This helps to reduce the potential spread of the virus and keeps emergency departments available for other emergencies. Unless you are very unwell or it is an emergency, it’s best to contact your GP before visiting a hospital. If you are very unwell or in an emergency, call Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance and let them know you have symptoms of COVID-19.

Fever clinics

Fever clinics are clinics for people who have symptoms of COVID-19. These clinics help keep people who may be contagious away from other areas of hospitals or health services to minimise risk to other patients and staff. You can find a list of fever clinics in Queensland on the Queensland Government website.

If you live in Brisbane, you can bring your child to the Queensland Children’s Hospital Family Testing Clinic to be tested as a family.

A healthcare worker wearing a mask, gown, eye protection and gloves (personal protective equipment) will use a nasal swab to collect secretions from the back of your child’s nose. The thin swab will be inserted about 2-3cm inside your child’s nose. The collected sample will be sent to a laboratory for testing.
You can tell your child that the swab won’t cause them pain, but it might feel a little uncomfortable for a few seconds. Please be assured our nurses will make sure your child is comfortable and settled before performing the test.

Please be assured, testing staff will make sure your child is comfortable and settled before performing the test.

If you child is sensitive about being touched or gets scared or aggravated in a medical setting, let staff know so they can work with your child in a way that keeps them calm.

You can help your child feel relaxed about their test by explaining to them what’s going to happen and why before you arrive. You might like to show them our Birdie and the Virus video or book to help with this. Here are some more tips:

  • Tell them staff will be wearing gowns, gloves and masks to keep everyone healthy, and that there’s no reason to be afraid.
  • Tell them that a little stick with a soft end will be put in their nose and mouth, and that it won’t hurt but might feel funny. (They might be fascinated to know that the doctor or nurse is testing their boogers!)
  • Take some deep breaths together before you go in.
  • Schedule a fun ‘reward’ after the test like a special dinner or movie at home (remember – your child will need to isolate until their symptoms have resolved).

Remember, a big part of how a child feels and behaves when they’re getting a COVID-19 test comes down to how the adult they’re with is feeling and behaving. If you’re really nervous about their test (or your own!) they’ll probably pick up on that.

After your child’s test, the clinic staff will give instructions on what to do to help keep your child, family and the community safe until their test results become available. Depending on the reason for testing, this may include isolating them at home until you receive their test results.

Other members of your family and other people your child has been in contact with, do not need to self-quarantine unless specifically advised by your local public health unit but should stay away from your sick child as much as possible. If the test result is positive, they may be assessed as a close contact and then need to be in quarantine. The public health unit will contact you.

Children who have been tested because they have fever or respiratory symptoms should stay at home and only return to school after a negative test result has been received and they are feeling well and symptom free.

If your child has been tested because they are a close contact with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19 you should continue to keep them isolated for 14 days even if they have a negative test result. You must follow instructions given to you by the public health unit.

If you have been asked to isolate your child until your get their test results, it would be appropriate to tell your child’s school that they will be absent because they have to isolate after a COVID-19 test.
No, other members of the family or household who are feeling well are not required to stay at home or self-isolate while you wait for your child’s test results, unless directed by public health.

Children and adults will only need to self-isolate if they have been in contact with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19.

No, other members of the family or household who are feeling well do not need to be tested unless they have been in contact with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19.
If the result is positive, you will receive a call from your local public health unit who will tell you what to do next. Your child will need to stay at home in self-isolation until they recover. If they get sicker, they may be admitted to hospital.

As part of contact tracing, public health officials will contact people that your child has been in close contact with, which will include people at their school.

If your child’s test result is negative, you will receive a text message from the public health unit to let you know. If you or your child/family are not under a quarantine order and your child is well, they can return to school. If they are still feeling sick, you should keep them at home until the symptoms resolve, so they don’t spread the germs they do have.
In some cases, a result may be returned on the same day as your test, but you should allow at least up to four days to receive the result.
The Department of Health recommends that anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, sore throat, cough, runny nose, shortness of breath, loss of sense of taste or smell) gets tested each time they develop these symptoms, no matter how mild.

More information

If you have specific questions about COVID19 and your family, please email

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Queensland Health: COVID-19
Queensland Health: COVID-19 translated resources
Queensland Government: Unite Against COVID-19
Australian Government: COVID-19 Health Alerts

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