Should I Keep My Child Home If They Have A Cold?

Understanding your exposure risk to coronavirus, of COVID-19, is not easy. A week or so ago, it was all about whether you’d visited China or visited a country where infection levels presented a risk. But with the virus spreading, chances are almost anyone has some level or exposure risk. That’s leading many parents to think carefully about what to do if their child presents with potential symptoms.

This morning, a friend’s son woke up with a runny nose and a slightly sore throat. Wisely, my friend decided to keep him home from school but, given the spread of COVID-19 and his likely proximity to dozens of other students, the question of whether he needs to be tested for COVID-19 came up. That means a visit either to a hospital or a GP. Both options seem like overkill for something that, a couple of weeks ago, was barely even a reason to stay home from school.

My friend called the GP’s office and was advised:

  1. He wouldn’t be tested as he didn’t currently meet enough of the criteria
  2. Keeping him home was the right thing to do
  3. Alert the school
  4. If his condition changes and he meets more criteria then the health department will grant a test
  5. Don’t come in to the clinic

Medical services are likely to already be feeling the pinch and are overloaded so it makes sense to not overreact and ask questions rather than making appointments or showing up to busy clinics or emergency departments.

The World Heath Organisation has a list of common coronavirus symptoms being displayed by those who’ve been infected. The WHO notes that the symptoms of colds and flus are similar so asking the question is reasonable. But not every sniffle is caused by COVID-19.

If you’re worried or think you may have been infected, there are coronavirus hotlines in Australia you can call if you are displaying symptoms that could be indicative of a COVID-19 infection.

But if your child is exhibiting any cold or flu symptoms – keep them at home, inform the school and call your doctor. If there’s a risk of coronavirus infection, they’ll order a test and you’ll know whether you’re dealing with a regular cold or COVID-19.


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