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When to get tested for coronavirus? Updated guidelines for early childhood education and schools

Updated 11.9.2020

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) has issued amendments to its coronavirus testing instructions for children and youth on September 11th.

THL now recommends coronavirus testing for all school-age children and youth with symptoms associated with the coronavirus. However, children under school age can be monitored at home for a few days, if symptoms remain mild.

The instructions define mild symptoms for children under school age as follows: “A child’s symptoms are mild if they are alert and have the energy for play, even if they also have a runny nose, cough and/or a fever.” 

Symptoms associated with the coronavirus include a fever, coughing, a sore throat, fatigue, a runny nose, nausea, difficulty breathing, sore muscles and diarrhoea. 

THL would like to reiterate that a child with even mild symptoms must not attend school or daycare. This recommendation is in order to protects others from exposure to a child with a coronavirus infection.

The only exception is sneezing or a runny nose clearly allergic in nature or associated with spending time outdoors. If a child with these symptoms is generally otherwise healthy and displays no infection-related symptoms, they may attend school or daycare.

More specific instructions are available at THL’s Children and the coronavirus site.


What do I do when a child gets a respiratory infection?

When a guardian notes that a child has symptoms of an infection, the child cannot go to early childhood education or school.

A child should be taken for a test if, in the opinion of a carer or healthcare professional, they have symptoms of a coronavirus infection.  The symptoms may include fever, a sore throat, shortness of breath, soreness in muscles, fatigue, a runny nose, nausea, or diarrhea. Smell and taste disorders have also been described in connection with the disease. 

If the child has an allergic rhinitis, occasional sneezing, or if their nose starts to run when they go out, but the symptoms end when the child comes back indoors, the child can go to early childhood education or school as long as their general condition is otherwise normal and there are no symptoms of infection.

If the test result is negative and symptoms are clearly decreasing, the child can go back to school or daycare while recovering even if the symptoms have not completely cleared up.

If the child is tested, but the getting the results takes time, the child can return to school or daycare after one day without symptoms if the child is not known to have been exposed to a confirmed case of coronavirus and no one in the family has travelled in the previous 14 days.

In a family where several family members have fallen ill at the same time, just one negative test result is sufficient. It is not necessary to test all the children in the family.

If the child's respiratory symptoms persist, they do not need to be tested repeatedly as long as the symptoms remain the same.

Early childhood education or school may not require a certificate of a negative test.

More information on the THL website.


If you suspect you have coronavirus, read the information