Child Covid-19 infection scenarios

Child or young person (aged 18 years and under) has symptoms of a respiratory infection, including Covid-19, and has not taken a Covid-19 test:

  • Children and young people with mild symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat, or slight cough, who are otherwise well, can continue to attend their education setting.
  • Children and young people who are unwell and have a high temperature should stay at home and avoid contact with other people, where they can. They can go back to school, college or childcare, and resume normal activities when they no longer have a high temperature and they are well enough to attend.
  • All children and young people with respiratory symptoms should be encouraged to cover their mouth and nose with a disposable tissue when coughing and/or sneezing and to wash their hands after using or disposing of tissues.

Child or young person tests positive for Covid-19

It is not recommended that children and young people are tested for Covid-19 unless directed to by a health professional.

If a child or young person has a positive COVID-19 test result they should try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 3 days after the day they took the test, if they can. After 3 days, if they feel well and do not have a high temperature, the risk of passing the infection on to others is much lower. This is because children and young people tend to be infectious to other people for less time than adults.

Children and young people who usually go to school, college or childcare and who live with someone who has a positive Covid-19 test result should continue to attend as normal.

Child or young person is a close contact of someone who has had a positive test result for Covid-19:

People who live in the same household as someone with Covid-19 are at the highest risk of becoming infected because they are most likely to have prolonged close contact. People who stayed overnight in the household of someone with Covid-19 while they were infectious are also at high risk.

If you are a household or overnight contact of someone who has had a positive Covid-19 test result it can take up to 10 days for your infection to develop. It is possible to pass on Covid-19 to others, even if you have no symptoms.

Children and young people can reduce the risk to other people by taking the following steps:

If you are a contact of someone with Covid-19 but do not live with them or did not stay in their household overnight, you are at lower risk of becoming infected. There is guidance on protecting yourself and others in living safely with respiratory infections, including COVID-19

The way that Covid treatment is accessed has now changed

If your medical records currently show that you have a health condition which means that treatment could reduce the chance of you becoming seriously ill from Covid, this needs to be started soon after you begin to experience symptoms. You may have previously been told that the NHS would contact you about treatment once you report a positive Covid test. This is no longer the case.

1. You should keep lateral flow tests at home

You should keep lateral flow tests at home but only use them if you get symptoms. If you do not have any tests, you can order them free of charge from or by calling 119. You can also now use tests purchased from a pharmacy or shop.

From 1 October 2023, the way you access tests may change. You will be able to check Treatments for COVID-19 - NHS ( for more information closer to the time.

2. Take a rapid lateral flow test if you get symptoms

If you have any COVID-19 symptoms and what to do - NHS ( take a rapid lateral flow test as soon as possible, even if your symptoms are mild.

3. If you test positive for Covid:

You should contact your GP practice, NHS 111 or hospital specialist as soon as possible after you test positive so that they can consider referring you for an assessment for treatment.

More information is available at: Treatments for COVID-19 - NHS (

Following referral from your GP, NHS 111 or your hospital specialist, our local Covid Medicines Delivery Unit (CMDU) will contact you where there will be an assessment carried out by a clinician who will advise and arrange COVID treatment if suitable.

Our North West London CMDU service is based at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital and is available for all highest risk patients, including children who are eligible for COVID treatments and registered with a GP in the North West London boroughs of Brent, Central London, Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow, West London.

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Last updated: 03 Aug 2023