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After COVID-19 Exposure, When Can Young Athletes Resume Play?

HealthDay News
by -- Robert Preidt
Updated: Sep 24th 2020

new article illustration

THURSDAY, Sept. 24, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Young athletes who've had moderate COVID-19 symptoms should be symptom-free for 14 days and get their doctor's OK before returning to practices or games, according to a leading group of U.S. pediatricians.

An electrocardiogram (EKG) is also recommended for those who've had moderate COVID-19 symptoms, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) said in updated guidance.

"Exercise and sports offer so many health benefits to youth, and we know that many are eager to return to play," Dr. Susannah Briskin, an author of the guidance, said in an AAP news release.

"We have many suggestions on how to reduce the risks, and they require being candid and forthcoming about anyone who is feeling unwell. Parents, children and coaches need to make safety protocols a priority," Briskin said.

According to the recommendations:

  • Children and teens who've been exposed to the new coronavirus, regardless of whether they have symptoms, shouldn't attend any practices or games for a minimum of 14 days. Parents and guardians must report if a young athlete or anyone in their household has any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 or tests positive for the virus, even if they have no symptoms.
  • Children and teens who are diagnosed with COVID-19 or test positive for the virus shouldn't participate in sports and should be asymptomatic for 14 days before beginning a gradual return to physical activity.
  • If an athlete tests positive for the virus, you need to notify team officials and the health department so that they can perform contact tracing and appropriate quarantining.
  • Before returning to play, all young athletes with COVID-19 should be cleared for participation by their primary care doctor after screening for heart symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, palpitations or fainting.

"Those who experience severe sickness from COVID-19, such as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), should be restricted from exercise and participation for three to six months," according to the academy.

"These athletes should be cleared to resume participation by their primary care physician and appropriate pediatric medical subspecialist, preferably in consultation with a pediatric cardiologist. Cardiac testing must have returned to normal before return to activity," the AAP added.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more on COVID-19.