Is your child showing symptoms like fever, cough, flu, or runny nose? After a brush with symptoms similar to those of Covid-19, this mama shares a firsthand account of her toddler’s experience
With the Covid-19 cases rising and more people being served Health Risk Warnings (HRW) and Quarantine Orders (QO), it’s normal for us mamas to be on high alert for our unvaccinated children. So what should we do if our kids show acute respiratory infection (ARI) symptoms such as fever, cough, flu, or runny nose? I believe all schools have made it clear now that if our children are showing even the slightest ARI symptoms they are not allowed to attend school and are to be seen by a doctor. Self-medicating is no longer allowed if you’re planning to continue sending your children to school. I know how easily and how frequently our kids will fall sick, especially with the common flu. So here’s what I did when my son came down with a fever.
Do the ART test at home, or go to a PHPC Clinic to get swabbed
If your child is showing ARI symptoms, you can perform an Antigen Rapid Test (ART) on them if you have a self-test kit at home. However if they’re symptomatic, it’s highly advisable to take them to a nearby clinic so the doctor can properly assess your child, or get the ART or PCR test done professionally if need be. You will find a directory of all the Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPC) that are also Swab and Send Home (SASH) clinics, where doctors on site will assess if your children need to undergo Covid-19 swab tests. Be sure to turn on the ‘SASH for Children’ filter because not all clinics can do swab tests on children under 13 years old.
The doctor will perform both the ART and the PCR swab test if it’s deemed necessary. I know you may be hesitant especially if you have younger children, but the tests are super quick. My 2-year-old took it like a champ! They may flinch or even cry for a while during the PCR test because of how deep the swab goes, but the ART is completely non-invasive and painless. You will receive an SMS for the results and it will also appear on your child’s Health Hub profile. The ART test is almost immediate, but you will only get the results from the PCR test the next day. Because the ART test can give false negatives and false positives, you are required by law to self-isolate at home until you get a negative PCR result.
Go to the right clinics and pay only $10
Visiting your usual private paediatric clinic is going to set you back hundreds of dollars each time, so make sure to go to a PHPC or SASH clinic for children instead. A lot, if not all, of these clinics accept Child Development Account (CDA) as payment and are heavily subsidised for ARI consultation and treatment. Get an official MC for possible ARI as well so you can apply for Child Care Leave if you’re a working parent. These clinics will be able to assess Covid-19 symptoms better as well. We paid a total of only $10 for my child’s consultation swab tests, MC and medication.
Continue monitoring your child at home
During this period, it’s best to have an oximeter at home – all households in Singapore are entitled to a free one each, so you should have collected yours during the distribution exercise. If you haven’t, you can buy one for relatively cheap online. An oximeter is especially useful for younger children who may not be able to tell you when something is hurting. Low levels of oxygen saturation is one of the things you should look out for.
For younger kids, I found it helpful to monitor their urine output. If my son’s diaper was dry despite prolonged period of use, he was usually dehydrated. You can also look out for any signs of lack of alertness such as not responding to you, difficulty in waking up, or if your child seems to be going in and out of consciousness. If you are still awaiting your child’s PCR results and they begin to show such symptoms, you can call a nearby SASH clinic or go there and have a doctor assess the situation. You can also call the emergency hotline for advice, or head to the A&E if the clinic is closed. When you do receive your child’s PCR test result and it’s negative but their condition is worsening, do visit your nearest emergency care.
For high fevers, follow the this helpful guideline from Health Hub. Remember, the intensity of the fever does not relate to the severity of the illness. How your child behaves is what counts! However if your child is below 3 months old with a fever of more than 38°C or your child has a fever of over 41°C, you should get emergency help.
I’m only sharing this because of how crowded the A&E can get during this time where more people are testing positive for Covid-19, worried of being exposed or showing ARI symptoms – so we need to do our part and make sure that we go to the right places especially for non-emergencies. This way, the people who really need immediate attention can get it faster. However, I understand situations differ for every family. You know your child best so if you feel like something’s wrong, trust your gut, mama! You can also visit the NUH Children’s Urgent Care Clinic at Bukit Panjang for non-emergencies and urgent but non-life threatening ailments if you are not yet aware of this clinic. Still unsure? You can start by referring to the SG Covid-19 Symptom Checker to be sure of the next steps.
Good luck and stay safe, mamas!