COVID-19 appears to generally cause mild illness in children. Most get better in a few days.

The symptoms include:

The symptoms are very similar to symptoms of other childhood illnesses.

If your child or a member of your family has COVID-19 then check the current NHS advice, and government guidance.

If your child has any of the following:

  • Pale, mottled and feels abnormally cold to the touch
  • Pauses in their breathing (apnoeas), has an irregular breathing pattern or starts grunting
  • Severe breathing difficulty. Too breathless to talk, eat or drink
  • Blue round the lips
  • Fit or seizure
  • Extremely distressed (crying inconsolably despite distraction), confused, very lethargic (difficult to wake) or unresponsive
  • A rash that does not disappear with pressure (the Glass test)
  • Is under 3 months of age with a temperature of 38°C or above (unless fever in the 48 hours following vaccinations and no other red or amber features)

You need urgent help.

Phone 999 or go to the nearest Hospital Accident and Emergency Department

If your child has any of the following:

  • Finding it hard to breathe including drawing in of the muscles below their lower ribs, at their neck or between their ribs (recession)
  • Dehydrated (sunken eyes, drowsy or no urine passed for 12 hours)
  • 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
  • Extreme shivering or complains of muscle pain
  • 3 to 6 months of age with a temperature of 39°C or above
  • Fever of 38°C or above for more than 5 days
  • Persistent vomiting and, or persistent severe abdominal pain
  • Blood in their poo or wee
  • Is getting worse or if you are worried

You need to contact a doctor or nurse today.

Please ring your GP surgery or call NHS 111

If symptoms persist for 4 hours or more and you have not been able to speak to either a member of staff from your GP practice or to NHS 111 staff, then consider taking them to your nearest A&E

If none of the above features are present:

Self care

Continue providing your child’s care at home. If you are still concerned about your child, call NHS 111 or contact your local community pharmacist

This guidance has been reviewed and adapted by healthcare professionals across West Yorkshire with consent from the Hampshire development groups.

What should I do?

  • Keep your child well hydrated by offering them lots of fluids
  • To make your child more comfortable, you may want to lower their temperature using paracetamol (calpol) or ibuprofen. If you've given your child one of these medications and they're still uncomfortable 2 hours later, you could try the other medication. If this works, you can alternate paracetamol and ibuprofen (every 2 to 3 hours), giving only 1 medicine at a time. Do not give more than the maximum daily dose of either medicine
  • Remember fever is a normal response that may help the body to fight infection. Paracetamol and Ibuprofen bring down the temperature but do not treat the infection. While your child is unwell they will continue to get temperatures once the effects of the medicine has worn off
  • Avoid sponging your child. It doesn’t help lower your child’s temperature
  • Cough syrup does not help with coughs
  • Try using saline nose drops or spray if your baby has a blocked nose
  • For children over 1 year, a spoon of honey in a warm drink half an hour before bed may help them to wake less often in the night
  • For children over 2 years, vapour rubs (containing camphor, menthol or eucalyptus) may help children sleep better

The NHS is offering new monoclonal antibody and antiviral treatments to people with COVID-19 who are aged 12 or above and at high risk of becoming seriously ill.

If your child is under a specialist team in the hospital and you are worried about issues relating to their long term condition, contact your child's medical team in the usual way for further advice.

There is advice on when your child can go to school or nursery.

Reducing Spread

COVID-19 is spread by droplets (mucus and saliva) and aerosols (tiny particles in the air). Your child needs to be in close contact with someone with COVID-19 to become infected.

Good hand hygiene is important to stop the spread of bugs. Teach your child to wash their hands properly with soap for 20 seconds.

Use a tissue to catch coughs and sneezes. Keep away from others when feeling unwell.

Try to stop your child touching their face to reduce the risk of them getting infected.

Face masks should not be used for children aged 5 years and under. Children need to continue to be able to play, go to school and go about their everyday activities. No child should be denied access to school or activities because of lack of a mask.

Reduce the risk to other people by following the advice for people with symptoms of a respiratory infection including COVID-19


Vaccinations are important to protect us all against infections. 

Some children can be vaccinated against COVID-19. There is more information on the NHS website and Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health website.

There is further information about the vaccinations themselves on the Oxford Vaccine Knowledge website.


Paediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (called PIMS-TS or PIMS for short) is a rare condition. Children who have had COVID-19 can develop it.

All children with PIMS will have a temperature which continues for several days. There is a wide range of other symptoms children may have including tummy pain, diarrhoea, vomiting, rash, cold hands and feet or red eyes. These can be found in other illnesses too.

There is medication which paediatricians (children’s doctors) use to treat PIMS.

You can treat your child's very minor illnesses and injuries at home.

Some illnesses can be treated in your own home with support and advice from the services listed when required, using the recommended medicines and getting plenty of rest.

Sound advice

Children can recover from illness quickly but also can become more poorly quickly; it is important to seek further advice if a child's condition gets worse.

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

All community pharmacies across England are required to be Healthy Living Pharmacies. This means that they are able to offer advice on a range of healthy living matters which includes eating a healthy diet. They can provide information leaflets and give parents, carers and young people more information about other organisations that might also be able to help.

Pharmacists are experts in many aspects of healthcare, and can offer advice on a wide range of long-term conditions and common illnesses such as coughs, colds and stomach upsets. You don’t need an appointment, and many have private consultation areas. Your pharmacist will say if you need further medical attention.

Sound advice

  1. Visit a pharmacy if your child is ill, but does not need to see a GP.
  2. Remember that if your child's condition gets worse, you should seek further medical advice immediately.
  3. Help your child to understand. Watch this video with them about going to the pharmacy.

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

Health visitors are nurses or midwives who are passionate about promoting healthy lifestyles and preventing illness through the delivery of the Healthy Child Programme. They work with you through your pregnancy up until your child is ready to start school.

Health Visitors can also make referrals for you to other health professionals for example hearing or vision concerns, or to the Community Paediatricians, or the child and adolescent mental health services.


Contact your local Health Visiting Team:

Bradford Health Visitors or call - 01274 221223

Wakefield Health Visitors or call - 0300 373 0944

Craven Health Visitors or call - 01423 544265

Leeds Health Visitors or call - 0113 843 5683

Calderdale Health Visitors or call - 030 0304 5555 (local rate number)

Kirklees Health Visitors or call - 030 0304 5555 (local rate number)

Sound advice

Health visitors also provide advice, support and guidance in caring for your child, including:

For more information about what Health Visitors do: What does a health visitor do?

School nurses care for children and young people, aged 5 to19, and their families, to ensure their health needs are supported within their school and community. They work closely with education staff and other agencies to support parents, carers and the children and young people, with physical and, or emotional health needs.


Contacting the School Nurse

Primary and secondary schools have an allocated school nurse. Phone your child’s school to ask for the contact details of your named school nurse.

There is also a specialist nurse who works with families who choose to educate their children at home.

Contact your local school nursing team:

Bradford School Nurses 01274 221203

Wakefield School Nurses (0 to 19 service) 0300 373 0944 (local rate number)

Leeds School Nurses 0113 843 5683

Calderdale School Nurses 030 3330 9974 (local rate number)

Kirklees School Nurses 0300 304 5555 (local rate number)

Sound Advice

Before your child starts school your health visitor will meet with the school nursing team to transfer their care to the school nursing service. The school nursing team consists of a school nursing lead, specialist public health practitioners and school health staff nurses.

They all have a role in preventing disease and promoting health and wellbeing, by:

  • encouraging healthier lifestyles
  • offering immunisations
  • giving information, advice and support to children, young people and their families
  • supporting children with complex health needs

Each member of the team has links with many other professionals who also work with children including community paediatricians, child and adolescent mental health teams, health visitors and speech and language therapists. The school health nursing service also forms part of the multi-agency services for children, young people and families where there are child protection or safeguarding issues.

GPs assess, treat and manage a whole range of health problems. They also provide health education, give vaccinations and carry out simple surgical procedures. Your GP will arrange a referral to a hospital specialist should you need it.

All children should be registered with a GP. Anyone in England can register for free with a GP surgery. You do not need proof of address or immigration status, ID or an NHS number.

How to find your local GP.

Sound advice

You have a choice of service:

  1. Doctors/GPs can treat many illnesses that do not warrant a visit to A&E.
  2. Help your child to understand. Watch this video with them about visiting the GP or going to a walk in centre

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

If you’re not sure which NHS service you need, call 111. An adviser will ask you questions to assess your symptoms and then give you the advice you need, or direct you straightaway to the best service for you in your area.

Please note, the online version of NHS 111 is only recommended for children over the age of 5. If your child is under 5 years old, please phone 111.

NHS 111 can also direct you to your nearest urgent treatment centre (minor injuries unit or walk-in centre).

Find your local urgent treatment centre.

When to visit an urgent treatment centre.

Sound advice

Use NHS 111 if you are unsure what to do next, have any questions about a condition or treatment or require information about local health services.

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

A&E departments provide vital care for life-threatening emergencies, such as:

  • loss of consciousness
  • breathing difficulties
  • severe bleeding that cannot be stopped
  • major trauma such as road traffic collisions

If you’re not sure it’s an emergency, call 111 for advice.

Sound advice

  1. Many visits to A&E and calls to 999 could be resolved by any other NHS services.
  2. If your child's condition is not critical, choose another service to get them the best possible treatment.
  3. Help your child to understand. Watch this video with them about going to A&E or riding in an ambulance