How Covid-19 is affecting New Zealand's children

New Zealand's children have been largely spared from the national Covid-19 outbreak, but health authorities are still remaining cautious.

When Kiwi kids are getting sick with Covid-19, they're more likely to have a mild illness than a serious one.

However four children have been hospitalised with the virus since the outbreak began, two of them under four years old, the Ministry of Health confirmed to 1 NEWS.

The other two were teenagers between 15 and 18 years old.

The Ministry of Health says there have been 138 Covid-19 in people under 18 years old, making up around 9 per cent of all New Zealand's cases.

Of those, 134 have recovered, with only four active cases remaining.

One of those cases is a young Canterbury boy, who is less than four years old. 

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield today confirmed the boy contracted it from a household member who works for the Rosewood Rest Home in Christchurch.

The boy hasn't been to any childcare facilities during the last month.

"[The child] continue to be in isolation recovering well at home from a mild illness," a Ministry of Health spokesperson says.

Of the active cases, two are children under four years old and two are between 10 and 14 years old.

A child and a teddy bear wearing masks.

WHERE ARE OUR KIDS GETTING COVID-19?

There's only one case of Covid-19 in a child where they're not sure where they managed to contract it, a child under four years old.

All the others have been traced back, with around half either imported cases or linked to imported cases - people returning from overseas.

The rest are locally acquired but have been traced back to a source, such as an existing cluster like Auckland's Marist College.

During lockdown, schools and early childhood centres have been largely closed. While they're reopening now, authorities aren't too worried about the disease spreading.

"Current evidence to date still suggests the virus tends to pass more from adults to children, than children to adults," the Ministry of Health says.

"We don't fully know why that is."

One possible answer could lie in children's heights: they're shorter, so anything like respiratory droplets from talking, coughing, sneezing are likely to fall downward.

When kids do contract Covid-19, they tend to suffer only mild illness, according to the Ministry of Health.

"We are constantly looking at New Zealand data alongside international data for any developments. We don't have all the answers, which is why we take precautions."

MYSTERIOUS SYNDROME LINKED TO CASES OVERSEAS

More children overseas, including in Italy, Spain and the US, are presenting with symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome.

It's called Paediatric Multi-system Inflammatory Syndrome (PMIS) and can include a high fever and swelling, among other symptoms.

Researchers around the world are investigating the mysterious syndrome and its link to Covid-19, but the Ministry of Health stresses chances are "very low" of it becoming widespread in New Zealand .

"We are not aware of any PMIS cases in New Zealand relating to Covid-19," a spokesperson says.

"We're not expecting to see patients with this association, however we'll certainly be watching."

HOW TO KEEP KIWI KIDS SAFE FROM COVID-19

The advice for keeping kids safe from Covid-19 is the same as with adults.

"If a child is unwell they should be kept home, while everyone should maintain physical distance where feasible and continue with handwashing and cough etiquette."

In New Zealand's current state, the Ministry of Health says it's more likely they have common viruses or colds than Covid-19.

If parents or caregivers are concerned, they're urged to keep the child home as a precaution and contact their GP or Healthline.