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Caring for someone with COVID-19

5-minute read

If you develop severe symptoms such as severe shortness of breath or chest pain, call triple zero (000) immediately and tell the call handler and the paramedics on arrival if you have COVID-19.

How should I prepare my home for if a family member or housemate gets COVID-19?

The person with COVID-19 should have a separate, well-ventilated room where they can sleep alone. They should have access to a separate bathroom if it’s available.

If they can’t isolate in a separate room, they should avoid sharing spaces — such as the kitchen — as much as possible.

Shared spaces should have good air flow, such as through an air conditioner or open windows.

Stock up on masks because all household members will need to wear one when moving through shared areas, and when in the same room as the person with COVID-19.

You’ll need cleaning products, including detergent and disinfectant, and disposable gloves, to wipe down frequently-touched surfaces often — especially door handles, light switches, phones and tablets, toilets, taps and sinks.

Buy a disinfectant whose label says it’s hospital-grade and that it kills viruses. You can also use a chlorine-based product such as bleach.

Throughout your home provide easy access to tissues, lined bins and soap or alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

You shouldn’t share dishes, cups, cutlery, towels, bedding or other items with the person with COVID-19, so consider labelling them. After use, wash them thoroughly using the hottest possible setting.

How do I care for someone with COVID-19 in my home?

If you are looking after someone in your home there are things you can do to keep yourself, your household and the person with COVID-19 well.

Home care includes wearing a single-use surgical mask and disposable gloves when you are in the person’s room, keeping vulnerable people away from the sick person and ensuring everyone has continued access to medical care.

Learn more about caring for the members of your household.

What do I do if my child gets COVID-19?

Children with COVID-19 will often have similar symptoms to other viral infections — such as fever, runny nose, sore throat, cough, vomiting, diarrhoea and lethargy.

A small number may develop other symptoms such as tummy or chest pain, headache, body aches, breathing difficulties or loss of taste or smell. Up to half of the children who get COVID-19 may have no symptoms at all.

There is a small risk of severe disease from COVID-19 in children but this is very rare, even in children who have medical vulnerabilities.

If their symptoms are mild, most children who get COVID-19 can be cared for at home.

You should seek medical care for your child if they are:

  • less than 3 months old
  • your child's symptoms seem to be worsening
  • your child has a chronic illness and your GP has told you to seek help if your child gets a respiratory or gastrointestinal illness
  • you are worried about your child as a parent
  • your child's mental health is suffering because of isolation

Parents and carers should use the same general guidelines that they would for other viral infections:

  • Children should be dressed in comfortable clothing, to prevent any sweating or shivering.
  • Make sure they drink lots of fluids.
  • Encourage them to rest and not overdo it.
  • Children can also take paracetamol or ibuprofen if they’re uncomfortable because of the pain or fever.
  • Watch your child for signs that their illness is getting worse.

Warning signs to look out for include:

  • prolonged fever (for more than 5 days)
  • difficulty breathing or chest pain
  • severe abdominal pain, vomiting and/or diarrhoea
  • if they’re drinking less or passing less than half the amount of urine they usually would
  • if they’re excessively sleepy or irritable

In case of these or other serious concerns, parents and carers should seek urgent advice from their care team. In an emergency, they should request ambulance assistance and tell the operator the child has COVID-19.

Learn here how to reduce the risk of spread to other household members.

Looking for more information?

Visit healthdirect's COVID-19 information hub for more answers to questions about the coronavirus, including vaccinations and restrictions.

Resources in other languages

COVID-19 resources in other languages are available from the Department of Health, as well as from the ACT, NSW, Qld, SA, Tas, Vic and WA health departments.

Information is also available in Aboriginal languages (NT).

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: December 2021

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