What parents need to know about coronavirus (COVID-19)

It is important not to panic. Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) appears to generally cause mild illness in children.


Should you be worried?

It is important not to panic. Your child can only get infected if they come into close contact with someone with novel coronavirus who has symptoms of infection (cough, difficulty in breathing or fever). Close contact is defined as being within 2 metres of that person for 15 minutes or more. People without symptoms do not appear to transmit infection to others. Reassuringly, novel coronavirus appears to only cause mild illness in children. So far, almost all severe cases have been in adults with weakened immune systems and in elderly people with medical conditions such as heart problems or lung disease. Children with heart and lung problems are at risk of getting more severe disease.

What should you do if your child comes into contact with novel coronavirus?

  • The incubation period of novel coronavirus is up to 14 days. This means that if your child remains well 14 days after contact with someone with confirmed coronavirus, they have not been infected.
  • If your child displays symptoms of infection (cough, breathing difficulty or fever) up to 14 days after a contact with someone with confirmed coronavirus, you must go indoors and avoid contact with other people (as you would do with the flu) and call NHS 111. If your child has moderate breathing difficulty (amber features), they will need to be reviewed by a healthcare professional in hospital. NHS 111 will arrange this. If your child has features of severe breathing problems (red features), call 999.

What if your child is tested for novel coronavirus?

  • If your child has mild symptoms, you will be told to return home and avoid contact with other people until the results of the test are back (self-isolation). Click here for information on self-isolation and for info for other household members. It is currently taking about 1-2 days for test results to come back. You will be called with the results.
  • To reduce the risk of spread to other household members, get them to cover their mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing and sneezing and to throw used tissues in the bin immediately. They should also regularly wash their hands with soap and water (for at least 20 seconds each time).
  • In addition, keep shared spaces and surfaces visibly clean using household detergents, washing hands after cleaning. Household bleach using in accordance with the instructions can be used to disinfect surfaces. Use hot water and detergent or a dishwasher for crockery and cutlery.
  • If your child develops moderate breathing difficulty (amber features) whilst you are waiting for the results, you will either need to ring NHS 111 or the number provided by the team who tested your child. They will arrange for your child to be seen by a healthcare professional in hospital. If your child develops severe breathing problems (red features), call 999.

Making the process of testing less scary for children

1) The reason that you've been brought to the hospital is to test you for a tiny germ that so small that you can't see it. We don't think that it will make you very poorly but we don't want it to spread to other people

2) Although the people doing the testing look scary, they are just normal people underneath the funny mask and clothes:

3) They will gently swab your nose and throat. It might feel a little uncomfortable but it won't hurt. You usually won't require any blood tests.

4) Once you've been tested, it's very likely that you'll be able to go straight back home. When you're at home, it's really important that you regularly wash your hands and make sure you cover your mouth when you cough and nose when you sneeze - and throw the tissues straight in the bin afterwards.

What should you do if you have returned from an affected area in the past 14 days?

Click here for an up to date list of affected areas.

  • If you have returned from Iran, specific lockdown areas in North Italy or special care zones within South Korea since the 19th February, or from Hubei Province in the past 14 days, you should self-isolate. If your child develop symptoms (cough, runny nose, breathing difficulty), call NHS 111.
  • If you have returned from another parts of China or other specified risk areas including Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia or Macau, self-isolate if your child develops symptoms within 14 days of returning and call NHS 111 for advice.
  • Keeping up to date with the situation
  • The situation continues to change day by day. For the most up to date information on the situation, look at the updates provided by Public Health England.

Keeping up to date with the situation

The situation continues.........

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