If your child has been in close contact with someone else who has COVID-19 in school or childcare, you will be contacted to bring your child home. The school or childcare facility will not share the name of the person who tested positive for COVID-19.
Our contact tracing team will arrange a COVID-19 test for your child and contact you with the appointment. Do not ring your GP, unless your child develops symptoms.
The risk of your child becoming infected with COVID-19 from this close contact is low. Even if your child does become infected with the virus, most children don’t get any symptoms. If they do get symptoms, they usually have a very mild illness.
But there are some things you need to do to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Dr Abigail Collins shares advice on what to do if your child has been in close contact with someone else who has COVID-19 in school or childcare.
If your child has symptoms
If your child has symptoms of COVID-19, they will need to isolate from others immediately and you should phone your GP.
Common symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- a fever (high temperature - 38 degrees Celsius or above)
- a cough - this can be any kind of cough, not just dry
- shortness of breath or breathing difficulties
- loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal
Isolating from others means they should stay in a room, on their own, with a window open for ventilation. They should avoid contact with other people. Depending on the age of your child, a parent may need to isolate with them.
If your child does not have symptoms
Your child needs to stay at home (restricted movements)
Your child should restrict their movements for 14 days, since they were last in close contact with the person who has tested positive for COVID-19. This is sometimes called quarantine. Our contact tracing team will tell you when they can stop restricting movements.
Restricted movements means they need to stay at home, avoiding contact with other people and social situations as much as possible. This is to help stop the spread of the virus if they do have COVID-19 too.
During the 14 days restricted movements your child cannot:
- attend school, childcare or any group activities
- use public transport
- visit other people’s homes or have visitors to your home
Your child can go outside to attend a medical appointment or to exercise as long as they keep 2 metres distance from other people.
The rest of your household
If your child who is a close contact of COVID-19 is feeling well, with no symptoms of COVID-19, other people in the house do not need to restrict their movements. They can continue to go to work, school, preschool or childcare.
But, if they have also been told they are also a close contact of COVID-19, they should restrict their movements. They will also be referred for a free COVID-19 test.
If your child develops symptoms, the people in your household should restrict their movements until the test results come back.
Your child's COVID-19 test
Our contact tracing team will contact you to organise a free COVID-19 test for your child. Keep your phone close to you and make sure it is switched on.
You will get a text message with details of the test appointment location, date and time. People will normally get their test result within 2 days.
You do not need to contact your GP to arrange a test.
Your child may get a second test if COVID-19 is not detected in their test. This is because it can take up to 14 days for the virus to show up in their system after they have been exposed to it.
They do not need a second test if their first test was more than 6 days after their last contact with the person who tested positive. They will not get another appointment in this case.
If your child tests positive
Your child will need to isolate from others (stay in their room) if their test result is positive (COVID-19 virus found).
They’ll need to remain in isolation until both of these apply:
- they have not had a high temperature (38 degrees Celsius or over) for 5 days
- it has been 10 days since they first developed symptoms
If they have no symptoms, they can stop isolating 10 days from the date of their test.
If your child tests positive and gets another test appointment within 14 days of this test, they do not need to attend.
Caring for child in isolation
If you are looking after a young child who is isolating there is a risk that you can become infected too. It will be difficult for you to isolate from them.
Because of this, you need to take extra care to reduce the risk of spreading the virus and restrict your movements for longer than usual.
You and everyone in your household will need to restrict your movements for 17 days. This includes the 10 days that your child is in isolation and for 7 days after your child's isolation period ends.
If your child tests negative
If your child, who is a close contact with no symptoms of COVID-19, receives a negative test result (COVID-19 virus was not detected), they still need to restrict their movements:
- for 14 days from their last contact with the person who tested positive, or
- until the date you were told by contact tracing
This is because it can take up to 14 days for the virus to show up in your system after you have been exposed to it.
The rest of the household do not have to restrict their movements.
If your child develops symptoms of COVID-19 after a negative test
If your child had a not detected (COVID-19 virus was not found) test result but later goes on to develop symptoms, isolate your child and phone your GP.
Explain to your GP that your child was tested as a close contact of a case of COVID-19 and they have now developed symptoms of COVID-19. The GP will discuss referring your child for another free COVID-19 test.
If your child develops symptoms, people in your household need to restrict their movements and stay at home. This means not going to school or work.
If the test result comes back not detected (COVID-19 virus was not found):
- the rest of the household no longer have to restrict their movements
- the child who is a close contact should still continue to restrict their movements for 14 days
If your child's symptoms get worse
If your child becomes very unwell quickly, it's rare that they have COVID-19. Their symptoms may be because of another illness.
Phone 999 or 112 if your baby is under 3 months old and has a high temperature (38 degrees Celsius or more). If your baby is aged 3 to 6 months and has a high temperature, phone your GP urgently.
If your child had a previous positive test and is now a close contact
Your child tested positive in the past 2 weeks
They do not need another test. If they receive a test appointment, they do not need to attend. They should complete the 10 days of isolation (stay in their room).
Your child tested positive more than 12 weeks ago
If they do not have any symptoms of COVID-19 now
They will not be referred for another test. This is because the test result might still be positive from the time they had COVID-19. They will need to restrict their movements for 14 days from when they were last in contact with the person with COVID.
If they have new symptoms
They will be referred for another test. They need to isolate from others until they get the result of their test and further advice. If the test is negative, they will still need to restrict their movements. They should do this for 14 days from when they were last in contact with the person with COVID-19.
They tested positive more than 2 weeks ago and less than 12 weeks ago
If they do not have any symptoms of COVID-19 now
They do not need another test. They do not need to restrict their movements.
If they have new symptoms
They will be referred for another test. They need to isolate from others until they get the result of their test. If the test is negative, they can stop restricting their movements when they are 48 hours with no symptoms.
Last updated: 5 November at 4pm