COVID-19 information

We understand this is a worrying time for children and their families, especially those with a health condition. Here is some information about coronavirus (COVID-19) and coming to our hospitals.

Image courtesy of Fusion Medical Animation

For the most up-to-date information visit the dedicated NSW Health coronavirus information page or see the NSW Health resources.

Updated 21 January 2021

A message from the Chief Executive

Hello everyone,

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is a worrying time for all of us, and it can be an especially anxious time for patients with long-term health conditions and their families. The situation is changing rapidly and there is a lot of information to take in. This page aims to answer some of your questions about coming to our hospitals and the care we are providing for patients. 

In response to COVID-19, we have made some important changes to ensure no one is placed at risk when coming to our facilities. While challenging for some families, to comply with space requirements for physical distancing and safely care for as many children as possible, we are currently allowing only one parent/carer to accompany/visit a patient at a time. Unfortunately, siblings or other children cannot visit at this time. 

We have also asked our staff to limit the number of team members entering our wards and clinical areas to the minimum required – to help adhere to essential physical distancing guidelines.

Limiting visitors and minimising staff contact is one way we are reducing the risk of COVID-19, and other illnesses, being brought in to our hospitals.

I want to reassure you that the health and safety of our patients is our priority. We will keep you updated with further changes that impact you, but in the meantime, your healthcare team is available to speak with you if you have any specific concerns about your child's medical condition. 

Please stay safe and remember to get tested even with the mildest of symptoms. 

Cathryn

Cathryn Cox
Chief Executive, Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network

Download Cathryn Cox's letter (21 Jan 2021)

Visitor guidelines and screening

Mask requirements 

  • To protect patients, families and staff, everyone working or visiting the hospital should wear a mask in all areas of the hospital.
  • Staff should ensure all visitors over the age of 12 are provided with a surgical mask. 

Visitor Guidelines for Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick and The Children's Hospital at Westmead

Current guidelines:

  • Only one parent/carer can visit their child. See exceptions below.
  • Siblings or other children cannot visit. See below.
  • All visitors will be screened upon entry and must stay home if sick.
  • Physical distancing guidelines must be maintained at all times.

Exceptions

The following allowances apply in general ward areas in consultation with your child’s ward or clinical team:

  • Parent/carers can take turns visiting their child, with a maximum 15-minute overlap in the ward area.
  • Two parents/carers are permitted to attend the Hospital with their child upon admission and discharge for up to one hour, except in the Outpatients Department and Day Stay Surgical admission area where only one parent/carer can be accommodated.

Please remember

  • A nurse may ask one parent/carer to leave if physical distancing cannot be adhered to during admission and discharge, or the short periods when two visitors overlap.

Download these guidelines.

This change is essential to help keep everyone safe, and comply with the 4 square metre guideline announced Sunday 20 December 2020 by NSW Health.

We kindly ask all visitors:

  • not to visit if they have been to a COVID-19 case location
  • are a close contact of a COVID-19 case
  • are awaiting the results of a COVID-19 case
  • or have even the slightest symptoms of COVID-19.

Please check the NSW COVID-19 case location webpage before visiting.

Please do not hesitate to discuss any questions or concerns you have directly with your child’s health care team. 

Sibling visits

  • Unfortunately for the time being, siblings are unable to visit. Exceptions will be considered on a case by case basis for long stay and frequently attending patients.

Together, we can help stop the spread.

Screening process

A screening process is in place to make sure any person who may have an illness that could be passed on to our patients, families or staff, does not enter our hospitals.

A staff member will take your temperature taken and will ask you the following questions:

  • Are you a staff member, patient, family member or visitor?
  • Are you experiencing any cold-like symptoms?
  • Have you been to a case location or had contact with someone with COVID-19?

Staff and visitors who have visited a COVID-19 case location should not enter our facilities for at least 14 days since their last visit. This is to reduce the risk of potential infection within our facilities.

  • Please call ahead if your child has an appointment.
  • Don’t delay if your child needs urgent care, but please alert Emergency Department staff on arrival.

Anyone experiencing respiratory symptoms or an unexplained fever is encouraged to be tested for COVID-19. 

Assessment clinics for children

COVID-19 assessment clinics for children are operating at Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick and The Children's Hospital at Westmead. 

Please note, these COVID-19 assessment clinics:

  • Are for children and their accompanying parents/carers
  • Do not offer medical review. Any child who requires a medical review will need to either visit their GP or local Emergency Department
  • Do not provide COVID-19 testing/blood tests for travel purposes.

Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick (SCH)

Hospital Road (High Street end), Randwick, NSW. 

  • OPEN: 8:30am – 4pm, 7 days a week
  • Register your details before you attend the clinic
  • PARKING: Street parking or a 10-minute walk from the Randwick Hospitals Campus carpark (off Barker Street). Please do not access the clinic by walking through the main hospital building. Follow the signs to access the clinic from the Hospital Road entrance - see map.  

The Children's Hospital at Westmead (CHW)

Corner Hawkesbury Road and Hainsworth Street, Westmead, NSW.

  • OPEN: 8:30am – 4pm, 7 days a week
  • Register your details before you attend the clinic
  • PARKING: Street parking or hospital carpark.

Testing for travel purposes

COVID-19 testing and result certificates for travel clearance are provided by private pathology clinics

General criteria

You do not need to have travelled overseas or been in contact with someone who has coronavirus.
Contact your doctor (GP) or a COVID-19 Testing Clinic, or call 1800 020 080 (24 hours a day/7 days a week).

Tips for getting kids tested

Sometimes children can be anxious about having medical tests, especially if they are not feeling well. This video will answer lots of their questions and hopefully makes your job as parent or carer, a little easier.

Your child may go through a range of emotions after having a COVID-19 test, which may leave you wondering - what do I do now?

Your child's health can't wait

Don't delay, visit when you need us

How COVID-19 affects children

The risk to children and babies, and the role children play in transmitting COVID-19, is still being researched. Children can develop COVID-19, but evidence suggests they do not get as sick as adults, especially elderly adults.

The rate of confirmed COVID-19 cases among children, compared to the broader population, has so far been low. Very few children develop severe symptoms with COVID-19 and the vast majority globally have recovered without needing medical support.

The National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) has carried out research to understand the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) in NSW schools, and the findings show that the COVID-19 transmission rates  within NSW schools has been very limited. Read about the study on the rate of COVID-19 transmisison in NSW educaitonal settings.

Evidence suggests that coronavirus infection in children is very uncommon and severe disease is rare, with a majority of COVID-19 infections occurring in adults. Infectious diseases experts at The Children's Hospital at Westmead are conducting research to better understand why this is the case by analysing the human immune response amongst children and adults. Read more about this research.

There have been reports from overseas of a link between COVID-19 in children and Kawasaki disease, a condition which has been named Paediatric Inflammatory Multisystem Syndrome Temporally associated with SARS-COV-2 (PIMS‑TS). The overall risk for any severe COVID-19 outcomes in children in Australian is extremely low. The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) has released a statement about the condition - read the statement here.

What to do if your child starts showing symptoms

The Australian Government's Department of Health website has information about symptoms.

If your child develops an unexplained fever, a cough, sore throat or shortness of breath, isolate them and seek medical attention.

Options for medical attention for children showing mild symptoms:

  • Your General Practitioner (GP)/doctor ( please call ahead)
  • COVID-19 Assessment clinic (no appointment required). See Assessment Clinic details for our hospitals.

Options for medical attention if your child is very unwell:

  • Take them to the nearest Emergency Department
  • Call 000

On arrival to any facility, you will be asked a series of questions and may be asked to wear a mask.

If you are unsure if your child should be tested for COVID-19 please call Healthdirect on 1800 022 222.

Advice for chronically-ill and immunocompromised patients

As a parent of a chronically-ill or immunocompromised child, it can be hard to know what to do amidst the COVID-19 pandemic where the situation and information is constantly evolving. Children with chronic health conditions can be more susceptible to infections, although it is not clear if this is the case with coronavirus (COVID-19). 

The current available evidence shows that infection with COVID-19 is milder in children than in adults. However, having a weakened immune system may make it harder for the body to fight infections such as this virus. Children who are chronically-ill or immunocompromised should take extra precautions to protect themselves where possible. For specific advice about your child's condition, please consult your treating team.

Updated advice for paediatric oncology and BMT patients during the COVID-19 pandemic can be found on the Australian & New Zealand Children's Haematology/Oncology Group website.

Advice for families with booked appointments

We are contacting all families with planned appointments to check if they are well enough to attend their appointment and to make sure no one is at risk when they come into the hospital.

If you have a telehealth appointment, there is a lot of useful information for patients and families about preparing for your virtual appointment on the Agency for Clinical Innovation website:

Preventing the spread of COVID-19

The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and stay safe during this time is to:

  • Wash your hands often - with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser if soap and water are not available.
  • Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are known to be unwell.
  • Cough/sneeze into your elbow or a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin.
  • Practice physical distancing - keep a distance of at least 1.5m between you and other people
  • Self isolate as much as possible and stay home from work or school if you are sick

Visit the NSW Health website for more information about how to protect yourself and others.

School and your child's health

Research to date is clear: the spread of COVID-19 within NSW schools has been very limited. Read more about research findings on COVID-19 transmission in schools.

The government is taking measures to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission in NSW school communities. Read advice from Dr Kerry Chant, Chief Health Officer NSW Ministry of Health.

There are lots of resources available which provide updated information about school/childcare and COVID-19:

Finding reliable information about COVID-19

To keep you and your family safe, it's important to refer to reliable sources of information. 

Wellbeing resources for children and families

Infectious diseases outbreaks like coronavirus (COVID-19) can cause a great deal of anxiety in the community. It is understandable to feel worried about the COVID-19 pandemic, especially if your child has a pre-existing health condition.

Feelings of unease are normal in this situation and for many families, this will be compounded by concerns for loved ones, social isolation and financial hardship.

Here are some resources for helping your children during the COVID-19 pandemic: