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.

Message from our 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. We are currently restricting visitors to one parent/carer per patient in most circumstances, and asking siblings not to visit at this time. I understand that this can be challenging for families, especially if your child is here long-term, but this measure will help stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect our patients, families and staff.

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. 

My most recent letter to all families outlines in more detail how we are committed to keeping you safe in this challenging time. It addresses things like changes to appointments, surgeries, visitor guidelines and other measures.

Stay safe.

Cheryl

Adjunct Associate Professor Cheryl McCullagh
Chief Executive, Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network

Hospital visitor guidelines and screening

Keeping everyone safe during this pandemic is our priority. We know it can be challenging, but our current visitor guidelines are in place to ensure we are able to safely care for as many children as possible while adhering to our Government’s physical distancing guidelines.

Screening process

Updated 24 July.

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.

You will be greeted by a member of staff at our hospital entrances and everyone over 12 years of age will be asked to wear a mask before entering the hospital. If you do not have a mask, please let staff know and one will be provided to you.

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 in contact with someone with COVID-19?
  • Have you travelled to Victoria or a NSW COVID-19 case location in the last 14 days?

If you have been to Victoria or a NSW COVID-19 case location in the last 14 days:

  • 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.
  • Visitors who have been to Victoria or to a NSW case location in the past 14 days, won't be able to enter the hospitals.

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

Visiting guidelines

  • In most situations, only one parent/carer can visit their child.
  • Only one parent/carer can stay overnight.
  • Unfortunately, no siblings or other children are permitted.
  • Everyone over the age of 12 years of age will be asked to wear a mask.
  • All visitors will be screened upon entry and must stay home if sick or if they have visited Victoria or a NSW COVID-19 case locations in the last 14 days.
  • Physical distancing guidelines need to be maintained at all times.

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

What we are doing to keep our patients, families and staff safe

Keeping you safe is our priority.

If your child is unwell or injured, we’re here to help. Don’t delay, visit when you need us.

It’s completely understandable to feel anxious about catching COVID-19, but our hospitals are safe places, with our experts ready to care for your kids when they need us most.

In response to COVID-19, we have made some important changes - so that no one is placed at risk when coming to our hospitals. These include:

Safety screening

Everyone coming to our hospitals will be greeted by a member of staff and have their temperature taken and be asked a number of screening questions to ensure they are not bringing illness into the hospital.

Following advice from NSW Health, from Friday 24 July 2020, all patients and visitors over the age of 12 are asked to wear a mask when visiting our hospitals. If you do not have a mask, please let staff know and one will be provided to you.

Staff who are within 1.5m of patients and visitors will also be wearing masks, to help keep everyone safe. Please remember that wearing masks is not a substitute for other precautions such as hand hygiene and physical distancing.

Visitor restrictions

Visitors are restricted in most cases to one parent/carer at a time to help limit the number of people entering our hospitals.  Siblings or other children cannot visit for the time being. The number of staff entering our wards and clinical areas has been limited to essential staff only. Our hospitals are not open to the general public. 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. Read more about our temporary visitor guidelines in the Hospital visitor guidelines and screening section above.

Changes to clinic appointments

Clinic appointments have been limited to urgent appointments only. Other appointments have been rescheduled or will take place by telephone or telehealth. 

Staff, patient and family health checks

Every family with a booked appointment or procedure is being contacted in advance, to make sure they are not sick with cold-like symptoms. Anyone with symptoms is asked not to come to our hospitals. Any staff member with cold-like symptoms, no matter how mild, will be tested for COVID-19 and not allowed to return to work until their test is negative.

Physical distancing 

Strict physical distancing measures are in place in line with government guidelines. Our hospital cafés are still open, but for take-away only and communal seating areas are also closed. You will see posters and floor markings around our hospitals which remind everyone to keep a safe distance.

Cleaning, hand hygiene and infection control

We have employed more cleaners, and follow strict cleaning and infection control guidelines.

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 preliminary findings suggest that the spread of COVID-19 within NSW schools has been very limited. Read the preliminary findings of the research into COVID-19 in schools – the experience in NSW.

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.

Prof David Isaacs, Senior Staff Specialist in Paediatric Infectious Diseases at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, says evidence shows that children rarely get very sick from COVID-19. Listen to the podcast with Prof Isaacs speaking on COVID-19 and how it affects children, what happens if you're infected, flattening the curve, vaccines and more.  

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). 

SCHN Paediatric Rheumatologist Associate Professor Davinder Singh-Grewal has co-written an article in The Conversation about COVID-19 and Kawasaki Disease.

The overall risk for any severe COVID-19 outcomes in children in Australian is extremely low and no cases of PIMS-TS have been identified in Australia at this time. 

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.

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.

Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick (SCH)

  • Open 10am – 8pm, 7 days a week
  • SCH, High St, Randwick - Ground level. Enter via George Gregan playground.
  • Please note, there is no access to the clinic from the hospital carpark (Point Parking) via Hospital Rd or through the Hospital. If you park in the hospital carpark you will need to walk along Barker St, turn left at Avoca St, left again at High St and left into Hospital Rd.  

The Children's Hospital at Westmead (CHW)

  • Open 10am – 8pm, 7 days a week
  • CHW, Corner Hawkesbury Road and Hainsworth Street, Westmead - Outpatients, ground level
  • Enter via the entrance on your right as you come from the visitor carpark, before the main entrance of the Hospital. 

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).

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.

  • See our tips on preventing the spread of COVID-19 below.

Advice for families with booked appointments

In response to COVID-19, Sydney Children's Hospitals Network is reducing the number of people coming into our hospitals by restricting visitors to one parent/carer per patient in most cases and closing the hospitals to members of the public. These measures are in place to protect our patients, families and staff.

To further reduce the number of people entering our hospitals, we have limited clinic appointments to urgent appointments only. Other appointments are taking place via telephone or telehealth, where possible.

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

It’s been a challenging time for parents, with many juggling work and the need to home school children.

With news that schools are gradually re-introducing physical classroom lessons, comes many questions on what should be done to keep kids safe from COVID-19.

A lot of resources are available to help answer your questions and are listed below. Research to date is clear: the spread of COVID-19 within NSW schools has been very limited, with data from the whole of NSW demonstrating that children (aged <19 years) represent 4% of all cases of COVID-19, despite being approximately 23% of the population.*

*National Centre for Immunisation and Surveillance (NCIRS) report - COVID-19 in schools – the experience in NSW

Government resources - Education 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:

Revision log for this information

  • Updated 24 July 2020
  • Updated 21 July 2020
  • Updated 15 July 2020
  • Updated 8 July 2020
  • Update 3 June 2020 
  • Updated 14 May 2020
  • Updated 5 May 2020
  • Updated 27 April 2020
  • Updated 15 April 2020
  • Published 3 April 2020