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Parents guide to coronavirus

What to do if your child is ill, and it is not coronavirus

Whilst children can get coronavirus it is rarely serious, therefore if your child is ill it is likely to be a non-coronavirus illness, rather than coronavirus itself.

Whilst it is important to follow government guidance around staying at home during this period, it can be confusing to know what to do when your child is unwell or injured.

That is why The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has developed this one page guide for parents during coronavirus - summarised below.

Remember that NHS 111, GPs and hospital are still providing the same safe care that they have always done.

We have also created a range of simple advice on a range of common conditions for under-fives, available in English and Bengali, which you can access here.

If your child has any of the following - you need urgent help: go to the nearest A&E department or phone 999.

  • Becomes pale, mottled and feels abnormally cold to the touch
  • Has pauses in their breathing (apnoeas), has an irregular breathing pattern or starts grunting
  • Severe difficulty in breathing becoming agitated or unresponsive
  • Is going blue round the lips
  • Has a fit/seizure
  • Becomes extremely distressed (crying inconsolably despite distraction), confused, very lethargic (difficult to wake) or unresponsive
  • Develops a rash that does not disappear with pressure (the ‘Glass test’)
  • Has testicular pain, especially in teenage boys

If your child has any of the following - you need to contact a doctor or nurse today. Please ring your GP surgery or call NHS 111 - dial 111.

  • Is finding it hard to breathe including drawing in of the muscles below their lower ribs, at their neck or between their ribs (recession) or head bobbing
  • Seems dehydrated (dry mouth, sunken eyes, no tears, drowsy or passing less urine than usual)
  • Is becoming drowsy (excessively sleepy) or irritable (unable to settle them with toys, TV, food or picking up) - especially if they remain drowsy or irritable despite their fever coming down
  • Has extreme shivering or complains of muscle pain
  • Babies under three months of age with a temperature above 38°C /100.4°F
  • Infants 3-6 months of age with a temperature above 39°C /102.2°F
  • For all infants and children with a fever above 38°C for more than 5 days.
  • Is getting worse or if you are worried
  • Has persistent vomiting and/or persistent severe abdominal pain
  • Has blood in their poo or wee
  • Any limb injury causing reduced movement, persistent pain or head injury causing persistent crying or drowsiness

The NHS is working for you. However, we recognise during the current coronavirus crisis at peak times, access to a health care professional may be delayed.

If symptoms persist for four hours or more and you have not been able to speak to either a GP or 111, then take your child to the nearest A&E.

If none of the above features are present - continue providing your child’s care at home. 

  • You can continue to provide your child care at home. Information is also available on NHS Choices
  • Additional advice is available to families for coping with crying of well babies
  • Additional advice is available for children with complex health needs and disabilities.

If you are still concerned about your child, check out the NHS 111 website for advice or call 111 if you’re unsure.