Testing for children

You will be told by a GP or our contact tracing team if your child needs a test for COVID-19 (coronavirus). The test is free and the GP consultation is free.

Your child will usually need a test if they:

  • have common symptoms of COVID-19
  • are a household contact of a person with COVID-19
  • are a close contact in a special education school or class or respite care

Your child's test

We will send your child's test details and results to you by text message.

Most children will need 2 COVID-19 tests if they are a close contact.

If your child is being tested because they have symptoms, they will usually only have one test


Make sure the GP or contact tracer has the correct mobile number for you. Delays happen when we do not have your correct mobile phone number.

First test

The first test appointment will be scheduled for as soon as possible. Your child should stay at home and restrict their movements (stay at home), even if they feel well.

Second test

If your child needs a second test, it will usually be scheduled for 10 days after your child was last in contact with the person who tested positive. If the last contact with this person was more than 8 days ago, they will only have one test.


Your child will usually get their result within 24 hours. But it can take longer. If you are waiting more than 3 days for your child's result, phone HSELive on 1800 700 700.

What to do if your child has symptoms of COVID-19

What to do if your child is a close contact

While your child waits for their test and results

If your child has symptoms of COVID-19, they should isolate from other people. When they get their test result, they'll be told what to do next.

If your child does not have symptoms and they are a household contact of a person who tested positive, they need to restrict their movements (stay at home).

If you are living in the same household as a person who tested positive you may need to restrict your movements (stay at home). Do this if you are not fully vaccinated and you have not had a positive test result for COVID-19 in the last 9 months.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19:

Isolating from other people and restricting your movements are two different things. In both instances, your child should not go to school.

Read about self-isolation (stay in your room) and restricted movements (stay at home)

Bringing your child to a test centre

You may need to drive your child to a test centre. It may be a strange experience for your child. They will see people in protective clothing and may find this frightening. Explain to them what will happen before they go.

What to expect at a test centre

These visual guides may also help children who need to be tested:

Getting ready to go to the Test Centre (Comic) (PDF, 5.54 MB, 3 pages)

Autism Social Story for Testing (PDF, 837 KB, 4 pages)

Getting ready to go to the COVID-19 test centre

Watch a video for children on what to expect when they attend a COVID-19 test centre.

Nasal swabbing for children

The test that children have is simpler than the test adults have. It's easier and quicker for your child.

Children do not have their throats swabbed. Their test sample is taken using a nasal swab. A swab is a type of cotton bud. It's put between 1cm and 2cm inside each of your child's nostrils for a second or two.

Test results for children

You'll get your child's test result by text message usually within 24 hours of their test.

It will be one of the following:

Read more about COVID-19 test results

Read about explaining COVID-19 to your child

Last updated: 26 September 2021 at 22.20pm

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