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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?

The Government of Ontario recently updated the guidelines for the COVID-19 testing of kids.

If your child has ANY of the following Category 1 symptoms, they should get a COVID-19 test:

  • Fever or Chills (temperature of 37.8 or greater)
  • Cough (not related to other known health issues and more than usual if they have a chronic cough)
  • Shortness of breath (unable to breathe deeply, wheezing)
  • Decrease or loss of smell or taste

If your child has ONE of the following Category 2 symptoms, they do not need a COVID-19 test:

  • sore throat
  • stuffy nose
  • headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea

Keep your child at home for a minimum 24 hours and then, if no new symptoms appear and they are improving, they may return to school.

If your child has MORE THAN ONE of the Category 2 symptoms, the new guidelines ask that you contact your health-care provider for advice on whether your child should get a COVID-19 test.

If your child develops any Category 1 symptoms, they should get a COVID-19 test.

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

2075 Bayview Avenue
U-Wing, Ground Floor

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

People who are going to the Assessment Centre must enter through the U-Wing Entrance. DO NOT enter Sunnybrook through any other entrance. View map.

» View FAQs for our Assessment Centre and online bookings