Parents Coronavirus frequently askes questions

We have been talking to local families and Community Champions about what questions they had about coronavirus. Here are some of the topics that came up:

National advice:

When should I worry that my child is very unwell?
If you are not sure if your child is unwell or if they need to be seen by someone, use the red/amber/green criteria to help you decide:
Follow the advice on who to contact at to do if your child has any of the ‘amber’ or ‘red’ symptoms. If you are worried about your child get advice from your GP or call 111.

What should I do if my child has symptoms of coronavirus?
Nearly all children who become unwell after going back to school will have a common cold virus, not COVID-19. So you can do the same things you would have done to look after your child before the COVID-19 pandemic. Children with cold symptoms such as runny noses or sore throats without a fever, should not be tested for COVID-19.

If your child has COVID-19 symptoms they should get a test. Your child and everyone you live with will need to stay at home and self-isolate until you get their test results.
If you are worried about your child contact your GP or NHS 111 – for children under 5 call 111, for children over 5 use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus in children compared to a cold?

Some of the symptoms of a cold are similar to COVID-19, there’s no way to tell the difference without a test. If your child has any one of the main symptoms of coronavirus they should stay home and get a test: 

  • a high temperature
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot, for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours
  • a loss or change to sense of smell or taste – this means they cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

My child has a cough, how do I know if it is ‘continuous’?
A continuous cough is coughing A LOT e.g. coughing for more than an hour for most of that hour, or three of more coughing episodes in 24 hours. If they usually have a cough it may be worse than usual.

One of my children has coronavirus symptoms, do their siblings need to stay off school?
Don’t send your child to school if they or anyone in the house has symptoms of COVID-19.

If any person in your household has symptoms of coronavirus, you need to get a test for the person with symptoms and the whole household must stay at home until you get the results. Including siblings who would otherwise have gone to school.

If the test is positive they must self-isolate for at least 10 days from when symptoms started. If after 10 days their fever has gone and they are feeling better they can go back to school. Everyone else in the household needs to complete 14 days’ self-isolation.

If a child becomes symptomatic at school they will be sent home to self-isolate. Schools may have a home testing kit they can give you.
Advice can be found here:

What if I keep my child off school for a day and they feel better the next?
If you kept your child off school because they had any of the main coronavirus symptoms arrange for them to get a test, follow the advice above about self-isolating.

We have put together this poster to help parents to decide if they can send their unwell child to school.

What should I do if my child has a cough or temperature?
How to look after your child's cough or temperature and when to get help:

If my child’s temperature goes down after they’ve had some Calpol or paracetmol should I still get a test?
Calpol contains paracetamol which can help reduce your child’s temperature, making them feel more comfortable. It should always be used as per the instructions. If their temperature goes down after taking it you will still need to get them a coronavirus test, if they had a high temperature; above or equal to 37.8 C (100 F).

You can use this fever advice sheet:

Can I give my child ibuprofen to help with coronavirus symptoms?
Parents can give either paracetamol or ibuprofen, if needed, to treat symptoms of fever or pain unless your doctor has told you paracetamol or ibuprofen is not suitable for your child:

How do I get a coronavirus test for my child?
Testing is now available for all ages (including under 5’s). Tests can be obtained by calling 119 or online via the NHS portal.

You can check your symptoms at NHS 111 online coronavirus service.

119 is the new COVID-19 number for NHS Test and Trace in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. If you are in Scotland call 0300 303 2713. 111 is still the number for all other non-emergencies.

What are the different types of tests for coronavirus?
There are two main types of test: have you got it (now) and have you had it previously. The swab test swabs the throat and nose and can tell if you have it now. This test is available to everyone who has symptoms of coronavirus.

The antibody test is a blood test and can tell if you have had it in the past. This test is currently only accessible for NHS staff or care workers, some hospital patients and care home residents.

What about health issues that aren’t coronavirus related, where can I go?
Children and babies will still get illnesses that can make them very unwell quickly. It's important to get medical help when you need it. The Royal College of Paediatrics has made this really useful poster with advice for parents on what help to get, when:

Can we visit our grandparents after school?
The current advice allows you see grandparents or clinically vulnerable relatives, if neither of you have symptoms of COVID-19. If you can't maintain social distancing you should still limit close contact as much as possible. Good hand hygiene is really important, wash hands with soap and water for more than 20 seconds.

Professor Russell Viner, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, advised grandparents not to hug and kiss their grandchildren when they got back from school, he said “Keeping children seeing grandparents is important, making sure they wash their hands etc when they come out of school. Being sensible, being relatively secure, I think is the way forward.”

We live with a vulnerable relative, is if safe for our children to go back to school?
Public Health England have specific guidance for households where grandparents, parents and children live together

My child has asthma, does that put them at more risk of coronavirus?
During the first peak in Covid-19 there was not an increase in asthmatic patients being admitted to hospital. However, you may be at higher risk of severe COVID19 if your asthma is not well controlled (e.g. on oral steroids).

It is important that you wash your hands regularly and follow social distancing rules.

Is it safe to wear a face mask if you have asthma?
Most people with asthma, including severe asthma, can wear a mask. Wearing a mask does not reduce your oxygen supply. Asthma UK has some helpful advice:

What should I do about routine vaccinations?
GP surgeries are making special efforts to make it safe for babies and children to still have their vaccinations e.g. using a separate entrance. It is important that your child still has their routine vaccinations. Contact your GP if you know your child is due a routine vaccination.

Should my child/baby still have their vaccinations if they are clinically vulnerable?
If possible, your child should still be taken for their routine vaccinations. Starting and completing your child’s vaccinations on time will help to protect them from a range of serious and sometimes life-threatening infections. If your child is particularly vulnerable speak to Speak GP first.

How can I get an emergency dentist appointment?
In England, some routine dental treatments are available again. Call or email your dentist. Only visit your dentist if you've been told to.
If you need urgent dental treatment:
• call your dentist
• use the NHS 111 online service if you cannot contact your dentist or you do not have one

What if I’m worried about my child’s mental health?
The COVID-19 pandemic is a new and uncertain time for all of us. Young people can get advice and support to help them keep mentally healthy during this time

Good Thinking provides mental health and wellbeing advice for parents in London. They also have specific resources for autism, eating disorders and ADHD:

What should I do if my child has anxiety or if I’m feeling anxious?
Tips on how to talk to your children about coronavirus and what to do if you or they are feeling anxious:

Kooth is an online counselling and emotional wellbeing platform for children and young people. Young people can chat online to professionally accredited counsellors or write and read blogs from other young people.

How should I explain why my children can’t see their friends or family?
The children's guide to coronavirus by the Children's Commissioner helps to answer questions and explains how to stay safe and protect others, how to make the most of staying at home and how to keep in touch with friends and family online:

For younger Children there is a new Nurse Dotty book 'Dave the Dog is worried about coronavirus', to help present the facts is a reassuring way. It's free to download:

What help can I get to support lost income?
Information on the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme and other support: See more information from your local borough below.

Local resources: what help can I get?

Healthwatch Central West London have a new page with information on health, social care, mental health, food banks, housing and different health conditions:

Kensington and Chelsea:
• Get the latest information on our response to Coronavirus, Council Service updates and support for residents and local businesses: Coronavirus information and support for residents, including COVID-19 Hub which has been set up support vulnerable residents. You can find contact details here if you need help:
• Up to date list of local food banks:
• For shopping and finacial support please visit the Covid hub:
• Coronavirus updates from the Family Information Service with useful links for families:
• The Venture Centre has gone virtual! Sign up for online classes, activities and events:

• Support and contact details if you need help or are worried about someone else:
• Westminster Connects has been set up to connect volunteers with people who need help. Find out about support from local organisations and community groups:
• Westminster Connects volunteers are collecting shopping for residents who can’t get to the shops
• Westminster Family Information Service is updating a page of resources and information for families and those working with children and young people during coronavirus
• Paddington Development Trust have put together local resources and information, as well as a calendar of online classes and activities:
• Food banks: Westminster Chapel is running a food parcel Collection Service for clients with pre-booked appointments Get a referral for North Paddington Food bank then they will arrange collection or delivery:

Hammersmith and Fulham:
• If you need urgent help or you are struggling with loneliness, or if you are worried about a friend, neighbour or relative:
• Help for Hammersmith and Fulham residents with advice about benefits, employment and financial support:
• Family support service for Hammersmith and Fulham, with a new virtual children’s centre and 'Time to connect helpline':
• Food banks: Changed to a delivery service, all centres are closed. More information and a link if you need to access vouchers here:

How can I help in my community?
If you have been supporting elderly people in your community and need guidance Age UK have a free, confidential helpline for practical advice (7 days a week, 8:00am - 7:00pm) 0800 169 6565

You can find your local volunteering group here or register with your borough:
• Kensington and Chelsea:
• Westminster:
• Hammersmith and Fulham:

Imperial Health Charity Imperial Health Charity are not currently looking to appoint any more volunteers. Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust want to say a big thank you to the 300+ Crisis Response Volunteers who have joined our teams to support the first wave.

With special thanks to our Practice Champion Hanan Ghouneim for all your time and input into the FAQs.