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Information about COVID-19 testing for children

The below explains when children require a COVID-19 test, and what will happen when young patients come to the COVID-19 Assessment Centre at Sunnybrook. Sunnybrook is able to test children over the age of one. For children under the age of one, please visit your nearest Emergency Department to be tested.

When does a child need to get a COVID-19 test?

Here is Toronto Public Health’s guidance about who should get tested for COVID-19.

If your child has any ONE of the following symptoms, they should get a COVID-19 test:

  • fever or chills (temp of 37.8 or greater)
  • cough (more than usual)
  • difficulty breathing
  • decrease or loss of smell or taste
  • nausea, vomiting or diarrhea

If your child has one or more symptoms, keep your child at home and book a test at a COVID-19 Assessment Centre or contact your health-care provider. Without testing, the child must stay home for 10 days.

In addition, the new Toronto Public Health guidance says that siblings and other children in the household also need to self-isolate (even if they don’t have symptoms).

Please note: Testing criteria for children may vary by city or region. Please check the guidance of the public health unit in your area.

View more information on Toronto Public Health's website »

What is a nasal swab?

A nasal swab – called a nasopharyngeal swab – is a test done to collect a mucus sample from the inside of your nose.

What happens when I arrive at the Assessment Centre with my child?

  • You will be asked to put on a mask when you in the clinic.
  • If your child can tolerate it, they will also be asked to wear a mask while in the clinic.
  • You will need to complete your hospital registration. If you have your child’s health card, please have it available to show to the nurse.
  • The nurse will be wearing a mask, gown, gloves and a face shield to keep you and the nurse safe.

What will happen during my child’s nasal swab?

  • The nurse will ask you to comfort your child by holding them in your lap or arms. You can help your child be still for the test by wrapping your arms around them in comforting hug.
  • The nurse will ask your child to look up at the ceiling and hold still.
  • The nurse will then place the swab inside your child’s nose and gently wiggle it around for up to 5 seconds. They will then repeat this on the other side.

What can I tell my child to expect during the nasal swab?

You can involve your children in preparing for the nasal swab by telling them there a few ways they can help, including:

  • Sit tall and hold still like a statue
  • Look up to the sky
  • Count to five out loud with your nurse
  • Take slow, deep breaths

How can I make the nasal swab more comfortable for my child?

For toddlers

  • If you are also being tested, you can go first and show them how to be brave
  • Hold your child on your lap
  • Speak in a calm and soothing voice
  • Sing your child's favorite song
  • Distract your child with a video on your phone or tablet
  • Provide encouragement and praise success
  • Bring a comfort item from home, such as a stuffed animal or blanket

For infants

  • Swaddle your child in a cozy blanket
  • Offer breastfeeding, a bottle or a soother before and after the test

Getting Here

Sunnybrook COVID-19 Assessment Centre

80 Armistice Drive
View map »

You must book an appointment for a COVID-19 test at Sunnybrook's COVID-19 Assessment Centre. No walk-ins.

Test results

If you have a valid (green) Ontario health card, you can access your test results using the Ontario Ministry of Health's online tool. Please retain your testing label to access your results if you do not have green Ontario health card.

COVID-19 test results are no longer available in MyChart.

Frequently asked questions

» View FAQs for our Assessment Centre and online bookings