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Covid-19 Testing - Advice for Parents


What to do if your child develops symptoms of COVID 19

On Tuesday 29 March, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid, set out the next steps for living with COVID-19 in England from Friday 1 April.


Updated guidance:

Adults with the symptoms of a respiratory infection, and who have a high temperature or feel unwell, should try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people until they feel well enough to resume normal activities and they no longer have a high temperature

Children and young people who are unwell and have a high temperature should stay at home and avoid contact with other people. They can go back to school, college or childcare when they no longer have a high temperature, and they are well enough to attend

Adults with a positive COVID-19 test result should try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 5 days, which is when they are most infectious.

For children and young people aged 18 and under, the advice is 3 days


The population now has much stronger protection against COVID-19 than at any other point in the pandemic. This means we can begin to manage the virus like other respiratory infections, thanks to the success of the vaccination programme and access to antivirals, alongside natural immunity and increased scientific and public understanding about how to manage risk.



The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of:

  • a new continuous cough
  • a high temperature
  • a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia)


For most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild illness.

If your child does develop symptoms, you can seek advice from the website at If you are concerned about your child’s symptoms, or they are worsening you can seek advice from NHS 111 at or by phoning 111.


How to stop COVID-19 spreading

There are things you can do to help reduce the risk of you and anyone you live with getting ill with COVID-19:

  • 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 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


Further information is available at

Preparing your child to do the test

Make sure you or a family member read the instructions carefully before starting.

It is important to stay calm and positive throughout the testing process.  Take your time and try not to let any anxiety you are feeling show, even very young children are able to pick up on how we are feeling. Breathe deeply and slowly and keep your voice calm and low.

If there is another grown up in your home get them to help – your child might want to sit on their lap or hold their hand. If there is no other adult remind yourself that you can do this.

Be honest with your child, you may want to tell them:

  • It may feel scratchy and uncomfortable but it won’t take long.
  • It is to check if they have the virus - make sure they get the right care and make sure the virus doesn’t get passed around.
  • You will need to take a wipe of their throat and up their nose with a big cotton bud to see if there are virus germs there.
  • It is very quick. First they will open their mouth wide – say ‘ahhhh’ and you will wipe the swab at the back of the throat. It might make them cough. Then you will put the same swab just inside each nostril, this might tickle. Then it will be all done.

Supporting your child

  • Tell your child the swabbing will be quick and needs to be done. Let them choose a teddy to squeeze. If your child is young, the teddy could have a pretend swab first (don’t use the real swab!).
  • Help them slow down their breathing, count to ten, play some music they like or sing a song. Talk to them about a nice thing you will do together later.
  • Get them to concentrate on making the loudest ‘ahhhhh’ noise possible. Show them how you can make this noise too as this may make them laugh and put them at ease.
  • If they are crying loudly you might decide you can quickly do the swabs so that it is done.
  • If they won’t open their mouth – come back to it a short while later. Do something relaxing together and then try again.
  • Comfort them with the kind and gentle way you talk and perhaps offer soothing touch like stroking their arm or giving them a hug.
  • Don’t get into a battle but keep reassuring, be confident and gently assertive that it needs to be done without being forceful as this could be frightening for them.

The key is calm parent, calm child.