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

Posted on: 4 May 2020


Whilst children can get coronavirus, the risk for this being a serious illness is low. Therefore if your child is ill it is likely to be a non-coronavirus illness.

It is important to follow government and NHS guidance to stay at home during this period, but it can be confusing to know what to do when your child is unwell or injured. That is why the NHS has produced a COVID-19 guide for parents. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health have also developed a one page guide for parents to use at this time to recognise where to go for medical help.


If your child has symptoms of Coronavirus (a new, continuous cough and/or high temperature) DO NOT go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service for urgent advice:

  • If you feel you cannot cope with your child's symptoms at home
  • If your child's condition gets worse and you are worried
  • If your child's symptoms do not get better after 7 days

For injuries and other illnesses

If you are worried about your child, especially if they have an existing condition, please call your GP or NHS 111, then take your child to the nearest A&E.


Here is some advice to help:

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, 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, confused, very 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 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 three-six 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

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: 

You can continue to provide your childcare at home using information available on NHS Choices.

Additional advice for parents is available below:

Families for coping with crying of well babies

Children with complex health needs and disabilities


Tower Hamlets Together have created a Care Confident booklet to support parents with children under-five. The booklet helps parents understand the signs and symptoms of the common childhood illnesses and is available in English and Bengali.