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 16 April 2021

A message from the Chief Executive

Hello everyone,

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been challenging for all of us, and we understand that 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.

The health and safety of patients is our absolute priority. In response to COVID-19, we have made some important changes to ensure no one is placed at risk when coming to our facilities. Changes are regularly updated on this web page and in my letter to families.

If you have any specific concerns about your child's medical condition, please reach out directly to your child’s health care team.

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

Cathryn

Cathryn Cox
Chief Executive, Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network

Visitor guidelines and screening

Masks

Visitors (over the age of 12) do not need to wear a mask unless they are visiting the Emergency Department or have respiratory symptoms.
Although it is not a requirement, visitors are welcome to wear a mask in other areas if they wish.

Visitors

In most areas of our hospitals, two parents/carers are able to visit their child at any time during the day, with one parent offered a bed overnight, so they can stay close to their child.

Due to space constraints and the need to maintain physical distancing, we request that only one parent/carer accompany/visit a patient at a time in our Emergency and Outpatient Departments; wards C2 North, C3 West, Medical Day Unit and Short Stay Surgical Unit (at Randwick); and Variety, Turner and Middleton Day Surgery wards and Radiology (at Westmead). We understand that this may present some problems for you so please do not hesitate to talk to our staff.

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 test, or
• have even the slightest symptoms of COVID-19.

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

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

Sibling visits

Siblings of long stay patients (more than nine days) are welcome to visit at a time pre-arranged with the ward’s Nurse Unit Manager.

Although siblings of other patients are unable to physically visit due to space limitations, we encourage virtual visits using platforms like Facetime or WhatsApp. Keeping families connected is important to us. If you need access to a tablet for video conferencing, please speak to your child’s Nurse Unit Manager.

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.

Anyone experiencing respiratory symptoms or an unexplained fever should visit their closest COVID-19 testing clinic.

COVID-19 testing clinics for children

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

Please note, these COVID-19 testing 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)

PLEASE NOTE: The children’s and adult’s COVID-19 testing clinics have merged. The COVID-19 Clinic is now located at Prince of Wales Hospital, Building 14B Ground Floor, access via Avoca St.

  • OPEN: 9am – 7pm Monday to Friday and 9am - 5pm on weekends
  • PARKING: Street parking or 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 

The Children's Hospital at Westmead (CHW)

The COVID-19 Clinic at The Children's Hospital at Westmead is currently closed. Please visit the NSW Health website to find your closest COVID-19 Clinic

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 educational 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 are unwell or have visited a COVID-19 Case Location, please call ahead to discuss your options.

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: