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If your child has symptoms of COVID-19

This advice is for children and young people under 18.

There is separate advice for adults who have symptoms.

If your child is aged 3 months or less and has COVID-19 symptoms, phone your GP.


Your child should stay at home and avoid contact with other people if they have symptoms of COVID-19 and:

  • are unwell
  • have a high temperature (38 degrees Celsius or higher)

When your child can go back to school or childcare

Runny nose or sneezing

If your child's symptoms are only a runny nose or sneezing they can go to school or childcare as long as they:

  • have no other symptoms
  • do not have a high temperature (38 degrees Celsius or higher)
  • are otherwise well

Emergency action required: Phone 999 or 112 if:

  • your baby is under 3 months old and has a high temperature (38 degrees Celsius or more)

Urgent advice: Phone your GP immediately if:

  • your baby is aged 3 to 6 months and has a high temperature

Non-urgent advice: Phone your GP if:

your child has symptoms of COVID-19 and:

Do not go to your GP or to a pharmacy in person.

Symptoms of COVID-19

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are:

Less common symptoms

Less common symptoms of COVID-19 include:

Severe symptoms of COVID-19

Symptoms of severe COVID‐19 may include:

Your child may not have all of these symptoms. Symptoms may vary for different age groups or variants of the virus. It can take up to 14 days for symptoms to show.

Symptoms of COVID-19 can be similar to symptoms of cold, flu or hay fever. If you are in doubt about any symptoms your child has, phone your GP.


If your child becomes unwell quickly, the cause is unlikely to be COVID-19. Their symptoms may be caused by another illness.

Symptoms in babies and children that need urgent medical help

If your child needs a COVID-19 test

Your child does not usually need to get tested for COVID-19.

If they have symptoms and feel very unwell, contact your GP. Your GP may decide to send your child for a test. If this happens, follow the advice based on their test result.

If your child tests positive for COVID-19

How to treat your child's symptoms

Most children get mild symptoms. They can recover from COVID-19 at home. You can treat their symptoms using common medicines you can buy without a prescription. Talk to your pharmacist about medicines you can use to treat your child's symptoms.

How to treat COVID-19 symptoms at home

If your child has diarrhoea

If your child has diarrhoea, they should stay at home. Diarrhoea is a symptom of infections. They could pass this to other children.

Your child should not go to school until they have not had diarrhoea for 48 hours.

Diarrhoea is also a sign of COVID-19. But it is not a very common symptom.

If your child has a breathing condition that has become worse

If your child’s breathing becomes worse, phone your GP.

Paediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome (PIMS)

A small number of children who have COVID-19 have needed hospital treatment for a condition called paediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome (PIMS). This is also known as multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C).

PIMS is a life-threatening disorder caused by an unusual response to an infection by your body's immune system. It is very rare.

Symptoms of PIMS include:

  • high temperature or fever (38 degrees Celsius or higher)
  • rash
  • red eyes (conjunctivitis)
  • lethargy
  • diarrhoea (sometimes)

Phone your GP urgently if:

  • your child is unwell, has symptoms of PIMS and may have recently had COVID-19

Spotting PIMS early is important as treatment in hospital works.

Children have developed PIMS in the weeks after testing positive for COVID-19. Some of these children had symptoms of COVID-19 and some had no symptoms.

Page last reviewed: 8 February 2024