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My child has had a test for COVID-19. What now?

COVID-19 is a public health emergency. Parents and children are understandably worried, particularly if they have already had symptoms and been admitted to hospital. The vast majority of people who catch the virus have a mild flu like illness – and many get no symptoms at all. Children seem to get milder disease than adults.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Most people start with symptoms of a cold, particularly cough and fever. As the illness develops your child may breathe more quickly or find it difficult to breathe.

What is the treatment?

At present there are no treatments which make a difference to the disease, although there is a lot of research going on. If children need to come into hospital, the treatment is the same as for other virus infections affecting the lungs, such as giving oxygen and help with feeding and breathing.

How do people catch COVID-19?

COVID-19 spreads by coughs and sneezes, which produce droplets that other people breathe in if they are within 2 meters of a person who is infected. It is also spread by direct contact such as touching hands or something which an infected person has touched or is near them when they cough or sneeze. Touching the face, mouth or nose after touching something which has been in contact with the virus, allows it to get into the airways and lungs.

How long does it take to get the test result?

The results take at least a day and possibly even longer for the result to come back. We will do everything we can to get the result to you as quickly as possible.

What if the test is positive?

This means that your child has COVID-19. While in hospital they will need to be in isolation until their symptoms settle and for at least 7 days. It also means that household members need to continue home isolation for a total of 14 days.

Will my child need to stay in hospital?

Your child will stay in hospital until the doctors are happy that they are fit to go home. If they go home within 7 days of the start of their symptoms, they will need to continue the isolation until the 7 days have passed. Most children will recover from COVID-19 like any other cough or cold and the risks of them getting worse again once they go home are small. However, if your child becomes more unwell and you feel they need to be seen again, you should call 111 and NHS24 will put you through to a clinical team. State that your child is COVID-19 positive. Please do not telephone the hospital directly. If your child looks very unwell, particularly if they are very breathless or blue round the lips, you should call 999.

What if the test is negative?

This means that the symptoms for which your child was admitted were not due to COVID-19.

If your child has symptoms such as cough or runny nose, they may have another virus which could spread to others. While in hospital they will need to continue in isolation until their symptoms settle or they go home. After they go home, they do not need to continue in isolation after their symptoms have settled. Household members will not need to self-isolate if they were doing so only based on your child’s symptoms.

If your child becomes unwell again and develops a new fever or a worsening persistent cough, then you will need to start isolating again and follow the standard government guidance.

Does the test always work?

Like all tests they are not 100% accurate, there are some reasons why we might not get a definite answer from the test. If your child is better by the time we know this, then we would not repeat the test. You should follow the advice given to other people who have had symptoms but not been unwell enough to need to come to hospital. If your child is still in hospital, we may do the test again.

What if my child goes home before we get the test result?

Many children will be ready to go home before the result comes back and we will telephone you or send a text message when we have the result. It may not be a doctor or nurse who lets you know so make sure that you ask any questions you have to the clinical team before you go home. If it helps, write them down so you remember to ask when they come round.

Please make sure that we have a working telephone number for you before you go home.


Where can I find further information?

You can find reliable information on this website: