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Kids at home sick? Do they need to get tested for COVID-19?

You woke up this morning and your kids aren’t well. The middle child has a runny nose. Your teenager is complaining of a sore throat. You know of multiple viruses going around school. Normally you’d see how they are, pack them off to school if you can, and reassess later. However, with the pandemic, everything’s changed. Soldiering on is a thing of the past. But do they need to get a COVID-19 test? What do you need to do?


Current advice on COVID-19

Here’s the current advice from the NSW government.

Human Coronaviruses are spread from one person who is infected to another. There are two ways that this virus is transmitted.

  • Contaminated droplets that occur when someone sneezes or coughs
  • By coming into contact with the virus through hands, surfaces or objects

It can take anywhere between 1 – 14 days between the time you are exposed to the virus and the time symptoms present. More commonly symptoms will present in 5 – 6 days. This is the reason that people who have come into contact with a person who is known to have COVID-19 are asked to self-isolate for 14 days. Tests involve two swabs, one to the back of the throat and one inserted in the nose.


COVID-19 symptoms

So, what are the symptoms you need to look out for? If you have any of the following you should arrange a COVID-19 test:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore / Scratchy Throat
  • Shortness of Breath


Other symptoms that have been reported by COVID-19 patients are:

  • Loss of smell
  • Loss of taste
  • Runny nose
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Loss of appetite

Pneumonia and severe acute respiratory distress are shown in more severe cases.

If you have an unexplained fever or respiratory problems – cough, sore / scratchy throat, or shortness of breath you should arrange a COVID-19 test.


When to get your child tested for COVID-19

What about kids? Can they get tested? When should they get tested? What do you tell them? Talk to your child in terms they can understand. Explain what will happen if they are going to be tested. Use language that makes them feel confident. Current advice is:


Children aged 0 to 4 years

  • Keep your child at home if they are feeling unwell
  • If your child has a cough, runny nose, fever, or sore throat phone your GP.
  • In an emergency phone 000 or take your child immediately to the emergency department of your local hospital.


Primary school-aged children 5 – 11 years

  • If your child is unwell keep them at home
  • Phone your GP to arrange a COVID-19 test
  • If you choose to use a public testing station, check that they perform tests for the age of your child


High school-aged children 12 – 17 years

  • Keep your child home if your teenager is sick and arrange for testing
  • If you’re using a public testing station, check they perform tests on the age of your child

You can contact your GP to arrange a test, contact a private pathology site that is undertaking testing or you can use a public testing station.


Public testing stations servicing Lake Macquarie

In the Lake Macquarie area, we have three options for public hospital testing.

Belmont Hospital

16 Croudace Bay Road

Belmont  NSW  2280

Open 8 am – 4:30 pm 7 days a week. This is a drive-through clinic. Follow the signs.

You must book before you attend:  (02) 4923 2211

This testing station will not test children under 5 years of age. Contact your GP or emergency department so they can access your child.

Calvary Mater Newcastle

Edith and Plath Street

Waratah  NSW  2298

Open 8 am – 4 pm Monday to Friday. Go to the screening desk at the front entrance.

Children under the age of 5 years will not be tested. Contact your GP or emergency department.

John Hunter Hospital

Next to the Emergency Department

Lookout Road

New Lambton Heights  NSW  2305

Open 8:30 am – 8 pm, 7 days a week.  

If your child is under the age of 5 you will need to contact your GP or emergency department to get them accessed.


For a full list of drive-through, pop-up stations and pathology, check out our new list: Where can I get tested for COVID-19 in Lake Macquarie?


What other options do I have?

If you want to ask for some advice call :

National Coronavirus Helpline

1800 020 080

Health Direct Coronavirus Symptom Checker  

If you are worried about symptoms click here


Remember to make sure you wash your hands, practice social distancing, and stay at home if you’re unwell.



  1.  https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/symptoms-and-testing#advice-for-parents
  2. https://raisingchildren.net.au/guides/coronavirus-covid-19-guide

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