This advice is for babies and children up to the end of secondary school, usually the age of 18.
If your child has symptoms of COVID-19 (coronavirus) they need to:
- stay at home and isolate from other people
- wear a medical, respirator or well-fitted face mask around other people, depending on their age
If your child is aged 3 months or less, phone your GP for advice.
Your child can go to school with a runny nose or sneezing as long as they:
- have no other symptoms
- do not have a fever
- are otherwise well
But if your child has a runny nose and feels unwell or is off form, they should stay at home.
Immediate action required: Phone 999 or 112 if:
- your baby is under 3 months old and has a high temperature (38 degrees Celsius or more)
Urgent advice: Phone your GP immediately if:
- your baby is aged 3 to 6 months and has a high temperature
Symptoms of COVID-19
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are:
- fever (high temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or more) - including having chills
- dry cough
- fatigue (tiredness)
Your child may not have all of these symptoms. Symptoms may vary for different age groups or variants of the virus. It can take up to 14 days for symptoms to show.
If your child becomes unwell quickly, the cause is unlikely to be COVID-19. Their symptoms may be caused by another illness.
Your child needs to isolate if they have symptoms
Your child needs to isolate from other people (stay at home) if they have symptoms. They need to do this until 48 hours after their symptoms are mostly or all gone.
Your child does not usually need to be tested
Your child does not need to get tested for COVID-19 unless they have symptoms and they:
- have a condition that puts them at higher risk
- live with someone who has a weak immune system
- are told to by the HSE or public health doctors
If your child gets a positive test result
If your child's test result is positive, they should keep isolating until both of these apply:
- they have not had a high temperature (38 degrees Celsius or over) or other symptoms for 48 hours
- it has been 7 days since they first developed symptoms
If your child is unable to isolate
Young children cannot isolate from other people.
Read advice on how to care for a child who cannot isolate.
People your child lives with
People your child lives with who are at high risk of illness from COVID-19 should take extra care. There is a higher risk they could get the virus. If they develop symptoms, they should act fast and get a PCR test.
People your child lives with do not need to restrict their movements. But they should follow advice around good hygiene to avoid spreading the virus.
If your child gets a negative test result
If your child gets a negative PCR result, they can stop isolating 48 hours after their symptoms are mostly or fully gone.
They can return to school or childcare if they do not have another infectious disease, such as flu.
How to treat your child's symptoms
Most children get mild symptoms. They can recover from COVID-19 at home. You can treat their symptoms using common medicines you can buy without a prescription. Talk to your pharmacist about medicines you can use to treat your child's symptoms.
If your child has diarrhoea
If your child has diarrhoea, they should stay at home. Diarrhoea is a symptom of infections. They could pass this to other children.
Your child should not go to school until they have not had diarrhoea for 48 hours.
Diarrhoea is also a sign of COVID-19. But it is not a very common symptom.
If your child does not have other symptoms of COVID-19, the people they live with do not need to restrict their movements. This is as long they do not symptoms of COVID-19 themselves.
If your child has a breathing condition that has become worse
If your child’s breathing becomes worse:
- isolate your child from other people
- phone your GP
Paediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome (PIMS)
A small number of children who have COVID-19 have needed hospital treatment for a condition called paediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome (PIMS). This is also known as multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C).
PIMS is a life-threatening disorder caused by an unusual response to an infection by your body's immune system. It is similar to Kawasaki disease or toxic shock syndrome and is very rare.
Symptoms of PIMS include:
- high temperature or fever (38 degrees Celsius or higher)
- red eyes (conjunctivitis)
- diarrhoea (sometimes)
Phone your GP urgently if:
- your child has symptoms of PIMS and recently had COVID-19
Spotting PIMS early is important as treatment in hospital works.
Children have developed PIMS in the weeks after testing positive for COVID-19. Some of these children had symptoms of COVID-19 and some had no symptoms.
Last updated: 26 July 2022 at 4.30pm