The characteristics of SARS-CoV-2-positive children who presented to Australian hospitals during 2020: a PREDICT network study

Med J Aust. 2021 Sep 6;215(5):217-221. doi: 10.5694/mja2.51207. Epub 2021 Aug 13.


Objectives: To examine the epidemiological and clinical characteristics of SARS-CoV-2-positive children in Australia during 2020.

Design, setting: Multicentre retrospective study in 16 hospitals of the Paediatric Research in Emergency Departments International Collaborative (PREDICT) network; eleven in Victoria, five in four other Australian states.

Participants: Children aged 0-17 years who presented to hospital-based COVID-19 testing clinics, hospital wards, or emergency departments during 1 February - 30 September 2020 and who were positive for SARS-CoV-2.

Main outcome measures: Epidemiological and clinical characteristics of children positive for SARS-CoV-2.

Results: A total of 393 SARS-CoV-2-positive children (181 girls, 46%) presented to the participating hospitals (426 presentations, including 131 to emergency departments [31%]), the first on 3 February 2020. Thirty-three children presented more than once (8%), including two who were transferred to participating tertiary centres (0.5%). The median age of the children was 5.3 years (IQR, 1.9-12.0 years; range, 10 days to 17.9 years). Hospital admissions followed 51 of 426 presentations (12%; 44 children), including 17 patients who were managed remotely by hospital in the home. Only 16 of the 426 presentations led to hospital medical interventions (4%). Two children (0.5%) were diagnosed with the paediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome temporally associated with SARS-CoV-2 (PIMS-TS).

Conclusion: The clinical course for most SARS-CoV-2-positive children who presented to Australian hospitals was mild, and did not require medical intervention.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities / statistics & numerical data
  • Australia
  • COVID-19 / diagnosis*
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology*
  • COVID-19 Testing / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Symptom Assessment
  • Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome / epidemiology*

Supplementary concepts

  • pediatric multisystem inflammatory disease, COVID-19 related