If your child has symptoms of COVID-19

This advice is for babies and children up to the end of secondary school, usually the age of 18.

If your child has any symptoms of COVID-19 (coronavirus), keep them at home and get a COVID-19 PCR test.

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are:

Less common symptoms 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.

Even if your child's symptoms are very mild, keep them at home for 48 hours and phone your GP for advice.

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.

Keep your child at home

Do not send your child to school or childcare if they have symptoms of COVID-19.

You may need to isolate them from other people. It will depend on their symptoms.

Read more about when to keep your child home from school or childcare

Read about what to do if your child is a close contact of COVID-19 in school

When to get urgent medical help

Symptoms of severe COVID‐19 may include:

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

Read about symptoms in babies and children that need urgent medical help

Immediate 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

If your child has symptoms of COVID-19

If your child has symptoms of COVID-19:

  1. Isolate your child from other people - keep them in a room on their own and choose one carer for your child who is fully vaccinated if possible.
  2. Phone a GP or get a COVID-19 PCR  test for your child.
  3. Everyone your child lives with should restrict their movements (stay at home) and get tested if they are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
  4. Treat your child at home for their symptoms.

Your child should only leave your home to have a COVID-19 test. Do not bring your child to your GP surgery unless the GP asks you to.

If your child has symptoms of COVID-19, they will usually only have 1 test.

Read about when your child can stop isolating from other people

What we mean by fully vaccinated against COVID-19

You are fully vaccinated:

  • 7 days after your second Pfizer/BioNTech dose - also known as ‘Comirnaty’
  • 15 days after your second AstraZeneca dose - this vaccine may be called ‘Vaxzevria’ or ‘Covishield’
  • 14 days after your second Moderna dose - also known as ‘Spikevax’
  • 14 days after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine ‘Janssen’ - this is a single dose vaccine

If your child has symptoms of COVID-19 but gets a negative test result

If your child has symptoms of COVID-19 but gets a negative PCR test result (COVID-19 not detected), they can return to school or childcare if:

  • they do not have another infectious disease, such as flu
  • your family has followed all medical and public health advice about keeping your child at home

Talk to your GP about your child's symptoms, they can advise you about when to keep them at home from school or childcare.

Read about when it's OK to send your child to school or childcare

Read about colds, coughs and viral infections in children

Runny nose or sneezing

If a runny nose or is sneezing are the only symptoms your child has, it's OK to send them to school or childcare.

But if your child has a runny nose and feels unwell or is off form, they should stay at home.

Read more advice on a runny nose or sneeze and why it’s OK to send your child to school or childcare

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 infection to other children.

They 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 does not have other symptoms of COVID-19, the people they live with do not need to restrict their movements if they feel OK.

If your child has a breathing condition that has become worse

If your child’s breathing becomes worse:

What we mean by fully vaccinated against COVID-19

You are fully vaccinated:

  • 7 days after your second Pfizer/BioNTech dose - also known as ‘Comirnaty’
  • 15 days after your second AstraZeneca dose - this vaccine may be called ‘Vaxzevria’ or ‘Covishield’
  • 14 days after your second Moderna dose - also known as ‘Spikevax’
  • 14 days after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine ‘Janssen’ - this is a single dose vaccine

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C)

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

MIS-C is a life-threatening disorder caused by an unusual response to an infection by your body's immune system. It is similar to Kawasaki disease or toxic shock syndrome and is very rare.

We don't know if these children developed MIS-C because they have COVID-19. It is too early to tell if there is a link.

Children who need hospital treatment for MIS-C are tested for COVID-19 as a precaution.

Last updated: 20 September 2021 at 2.48pm