Advice for parents and carers: Coronavirus (Covid-19) in children

It’s understandable that you might be worried about Coronavirus (Covid-19) particularly if your child has a long-term health condition.

The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust is following official guidance from the NHS, UK Government and World Health Organisation. As this situation is changing constantly, current information can be found on the GOV.UK website. The information below will also be updated to reflect any changes.

Please see below some frequently asked questions and answers which you may find helpful. We've also put together a leaflet to help parents and carers understand Covid-19. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Coronavirus (Covid-19)?

Covid-19 is a new virus that is spreading across the world. This is a virus that affects the lungs and therefore a person’s breathing.

What are the symptoms of Covid-19? 

  • a high temperature
  • a new, continuous cough
  • a loss of, or change to, your sense of smell or taste

It is important not to panic. Children can get coronavirus (Covid-19), but they seem to get it less often than adults and it's usually less serious.

If you are concerned, please do not take your child to your doctor or pharmacist – stay at home and call NHS 111 for advice. If your child has severe breathing problems call 999.

The Children’s Coronavirus NHS UK page provides a symptom checking visual which can be used to help you decide if you need to contact 111 or 999.

What precautions should I take?

Covid-19 is spread by droplets. That means your child needs to be in extremely close contact with someone with Covid-19 (who is coughing) to become infected (within 1-2 metres of them). However, the droplets containing Covid-19 can survive for hours on hard surfaces (door handles, handrails etc). This means that your child is much more likely to get infected by picking up Covid-19 on their hands and then infecting themselves by touching their face (which allows the virus to enter via their mouth, nose or eyes).

Child washing hands

Do

  • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • wash your hands as soon as you get back home
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
  • limit contact with people if it isn’t necessary
  • avoid touching your face

Don’t

  • do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
  • do not have visitors to your home, including friends and family

Read more on NHS.UK.

What should you do if your child comes into contact with Covid-19?

The incubation period of novel coronavirus (Copvid-19)  is up to 14 days. This means that if your child remains well 14 days after contact with someone with confirmed coronavirus, it’s likely they haven’t 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 contact NHS 111 If your child has severe breathing problems call 999.

If my child is unwell, can I give them ibuprofen?

At the moment there is currently insufficient evidence to establish a link between use of ibuprofen and susceptibility to contracting Covid-19 or the worsening of its symptoms – please see the Government information here.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) advice to parents is to use either paracetamol or ibuprofen to treat their child if they have symptoms of Covid-19, such as fever and headache, and should follow NHS advice if they have any questions or if symptoms get worse.

Will my child be tested for coronavirus?

Only children who are admitted to hospital with moderate/severe symptoms of Covid-19 are being tested.

If your child has mild symptoms, your child will not be tested for Covid-19. Instead, your family will be told to self-isolate for 14 days.

Is the process of testing scary for children?

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

An example of what you could say to children to help them understand why they’re being tested and how they is:

The reason you have been brought to the hospital is to test you for a germ that is so small it cannot be seen. We don’t think that it will make you very poorly but we don’t want it to spread to other people. A doctor or nurse will gently swab your nose and throat. It might feel a little uncomfortable but it won’t hurt.

Is there any treatment?

There is no proven treatment for Covid-19, however, there are many clinical trials underway for many different therapies. Vaccines will hopefully provide protection against future outbreaks of Covid-19, though these are still early in the drug development phase.

What do I say to my child about coronavirus?

There’s a lot of news coverage about the outbreak of Covid-19 and it can be frightening for children. Parents and others who work closely with children should filter information and talk about it in a way that their child can understand. The children and young people's mental health charity YoungMinds have put together ‘ten tips’ which support parents to help children understand.

Will my child’s hospital appointment be cancelled?

In order to keep our patients and our staff safe we have made the decision to cancel all non-urgent outpatient appointments. Read further information regarding appointments here. Please note: if you have symptoms of a new, continuous cough and high temperature, you should not come into our hospital sites but instead self-isolate at home. The latest health advice can be found at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus  

If I’m visiting my child on the ward am I allowed to bring other children or family members as well?

We ask that only two parents / carers attend with a child and not to extend this to the wider family when visiting our children’s ward. On the Neonatal unit this is restricted to only one parent per day or night. See our webpage here for further information.