Pediatric COVID-19: Identifying Symptoms And Testing Recommendations

Checklist of Symptoms to Look Out for If You Suspect Your Child Has COVID-19

COVID-19 is an Equal Opportunity Threat: Stay Informed and Prepared, Even as Normalcy Returns. Recognize Symptoms of COVID-19 in Children and Know When to Schedule Testing if Suspected.

Clinical presentations in kids.

The Philippine Pediatric Society’s A Parent’s Guide to COVID-19 Infection in Children states that about 12% of all COVID-19 cases occur in the pediatric population, including infants and children. 

Although the majority of cases in this age group are mild (42.1%), there is still a possibility for children to experience a severe form of the illness. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of these symptoms in children, especially as they start to interact with people outside their household.

The three most frequently observed symptoms of COVID-19 in kids are: 

  • Fever (a temperature of 38°C in infants younger than 3 months, and 39°C in children 3 months and older) 
  • Coughing 
  • Sneezing or nasal congestion

Additional signs they may display include: 

  • Decreased appetite 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Stomach discomfort 
  • Sore throat 
  • Aches and pains 
  • Loss of smell or taste 
  • Headache 
  • Rashes
  • Seizure

Severe pediatric cases may present with a combination of the mentioned symptoms, along with at least one of the following:

  • A widespread darkening or blue tint on the child’s skin
  • Grunting sounds and significant inward movement of the lower chest wall when inhaling
  • Difficulty in breastfeeding or drinking
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Convulsions or seizures.

Additionally, individuals with severe COVID-19 may experience shock, acute stroke, as well as Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), characterized by inflammation in multiple bodily parts.

Your child should be tested for COVID-19 if they:

  • Display symptoms of the virus, such as fever, cough, difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle aches, or loss of smell or taste.
  • Have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Have underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk for severe illness, such as asthma, heart disease, or a weakened immune system.
  • Are instructed to get tested by a healthcare provider or public health authority.
  • It’s important to follow the guidance of local health authorities and healthcare providers when deciding when to test your child for COVID-19.

If your child had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 but is not showing any symptoms, it is advisable to have them tested 5 to 7 days after their last exposure to the infected person. The recommended test for COVID-19 in children is the RT-PCR test. Antigen tests are only suggested for children residing in large communal living facilities, such as orphanages or convents, to quickly and effectively detect the virus to prevent further spread. When getting your child tested, it is important to ensure that the testing center is using COVID-19 testing kits that are approved by the Department of Health or Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.

For additional guidance on handling COVID-19 in children, obtain a copy of Philippine Pediatric Society’s A Parent’s Guide to COVID-19 Infection in Children here.


Philippine Pediatric Society (2021). A parent’s guide to COVID-19 infection in children. 

Vandergriendt, C. & Wright, S.A., (2022). What is the normal body temperature range? Healthline