Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQs
We understand that you might be worried about coronavirus – also known as COVID-19 – particularly if your child has a long-term health condition.
We are following official guidance from the NHS, UK Government and World Health Organisation. The situation is changing constantly so we will update this information as needed – you can always check the GOV.UK website at https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus for up to the minute advice
Please note that the following advice is for families who have a child or young person at GOSH or who are staying in the UK.
A: This is a virus that affects the lungs and therefore people’s breathing.
A: The main symptoms are:
- New, continuous cough
- High temperature
- Loss of or change to your sense of smell or taste
However, these are similar to lots of other common illnesses. The only way you can be sure if someone has coronavirus is to test them. Read more about symptoms of COVID-19 at nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.
If you, your child or anyone else in your household has symptoms of COVID-19, please do not visit your doctor or pharmacist – stay at home and use the NHS 111 online service at 111.nhs.uk for urgent medical advice.
However, if you are worried about your child or feel their life is at risk, you should call 999 or go to your local A&E or urgent care centre as you normally would.
If you are due to attend GOSH and you or your child has symptoms of COVID-19, please call their speciality team for advice and support before visiting the hospital.
A: The evidence to date suggests that although children do develop COVID-19, very few children develop severe symptoms, even if they have an underlying health condition.
At GOSH, we are taking extra precautions to keep our patients safe, like changing the way we run some of our services and providing specialty guidance for patients, including those who may be considered immunocompromised or part of a vulnerable group.
A: All viruses have the ability to ‘mutate’ or change over time, and the COVID-19 virus is no different. A new variant of the COVID-19 strain has been identified as part of the routine surveillance which is carried out by Public Health England. It is normal for a virus to mutate in order to better adapt to infecting people, which is what this virus has done. It is more efficient at causing infection, which is what is meant when you hear talk of it being more transmissable or infectious. All viruses have the capability to adapt in this way, and this is something which was expected. It does not cause more severe disease, but it will infect more people.
However, we know that our current ways of reducing its spread – Hands, Face, Space – are effective in reducing transmission, so everyone should carry on using hand sanitiser, wearing a face mask, and staying 2 metres from people outside their household. We’re also pretty sure that the vaccines will work against this strain of the virus.
A. If your child has symptoms including a fever, diarrhoea and abdominal pain, call NHS 111 or access the service online at 111.nhs.uk. If you’re very worried about your child, please call 999 or take them to A&E or an urgent care centre as you normally would. They are open for all children who need care and are safe to attend.
You may have seen reports in the media of very unwell children being admitted to hospital with an inflammatory syndrome characterised by symptoms including fever, abdominal pain, diarrhoea and skin rashes. These symptoms have been compared to a separate condition called Kawasaki disease.
This inflammatory syndrome is affecting only a small number of children, but it's really important that if you do have concerns about your child, you seek urgent treatment. We will continue to follow the latest understanding of this syndrome to make sure we can best care for these patients. Information about PIMS-TS is available at www.gosh.nhs.uk/conditions-and-treatments/conditions-we-treat/paediatric-inflammatory-multisystem-syndrome-pims.
A: Very few children are currently required to shield. You can find guidance for specific patient groups at gosh.nhs.uk/covid-19-specialty-guides.
If you have any questions or concerns, please seek advice from the GOSH teams involved in your child’s care. An easy and secure way to keep in touch is through the MyGOSH online portal. Find out more at gosh.nhs.uk/your-hospital-visit/mygosh. Please also consult the latest NHS guidance at nhs.uk.
A: Everyone should also take the widely published precautions to avoid infection, including keeping good hand hygiene, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth. The public is also being advised to wear face coverings when it’s hard to stay a safe distance from people, including on public transport and in hospitals. If you or your child wear one, please make sure you are able to wear it correctly. To see this advice in action and learn how to keep yourself and others safe, watch our family-friendly animation featuring Otto the Octopus at gosh.nhs.uk/staysafe.
A: No, taking medication as prescribed is very important and not taking it could make your child’s condition worse. Please consult your specialty team before making any decisions regarding your child’s medication.
A: If there are changes to your child's underlying condition, please contact the GOSH teams involved in your child’s care as you usually would.
An easy and secure way to do this is through the MyGOSH online portal at gosh.nhs.uk/your-hospital-visit/mygosh. We are doing our best to respond to your queries quickly, but this might take a little longer than usual in some cases.
You can also call NHS 111 or visit 111.nhs.uk for medical advice, 24 hours a day. However, if you are worried about your child or feel their life is at risk, you should always call 999 or go to your local A&E or urgent care centre as you normally would.
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) has produced a helpful poster for parents and carers who may be worried or unsure about what to do if their child is unwell or injured during the COVID-19 outbreak. Please note that the RCPCH poster provides general advice for all children. It doesn’t take into account your child’s specific condition or their personal health and care plan. If you have any questions, please seek advice from the GOSH teams involved in your child’s care.
It is important to follow Government advice, but remember that NHS 111, GPs and hospitals are continuing to provide safe care should your family need it.
A: If we do need to postpone your child’s procedure, admission or appointment, we will contact you directly as soon as we can. We hope you understand that this might take a little longer than usual and we may not be able to give you details of the new appointment or admission date just now.If we do need to postpone your child’s procedure, admission or appointment, we will contact you directly as soon as we can. We hope you understand that this might take a little longer than usual and we may not be able to give you details of the new appointment or admission date just now.
A: We know delays to treatment can cause great anxiety, particularly when we might not be able to give you a new date for your appointment or admission.
Your child’s health remains our number one priority. Our clinical teams are looking at every patient individually, and prioritising procedures, treatments and appointments for those who most need our care (in order of clinical priority).
We’ve found that virtual appointments are a great way of carrying out consultations when we can’t bring your child into the hospital just yet.
We know how worrying delays can be and we are doing our best to minimise these while making sure we provide care safely and in line with advice from the Government.
If you have any questions or are worried about your visits to GOSH, get in touch with your clinical team through the MyGOSH online portal: gosh.nhs.uk/your-hospital-visit/mygosh.
If you are required to quarantine because you have arrived from outside the UK (after 4am 18/01/2021), the following rules apply;
On arrival to the UK, you should travel to your accommodation by private vehicle, avoiding public transport.
On arriving at your private accommodation, you need to follow the following rules for the next 10 days;
- You cannot visit public areas, whether for the purpose of exercise, open air recreation or otherwise.
- You should not go shopping. If you require help buying groceries, other shopping or picking up medication, you should ask friends or relatives, or order a delivery. If you do not have family or friends in the UK who can assist, please contact your sponsor for assistance.
- You must only exercise within your home or garden.
An exception to this rule is if you need urgent medical assistance (or where your doctor has advised you to get medical assistance). For more information, please review the UK Government website.
If Self-Isolation is required due to contact with a person who has been identified as COVID-19 positive, or if you receive a positive COVID-19 test result, you must self-isolate for 10 days as per national guidance.
You must not leave your home if you're self-isolating.
- do not go to work, school or public places – work from home if you can
- do not go on public transport or use taxis
- do not go out to get food and medicine – order it online or by phone, or ask someone to bring it to your home
- do not have visitors in your home, including friends and family – except for people providing essential care
- do not go out to exercise – exercise at home or in your garden, if you have one
For more information, please review the UK Government website. The same rules for quarantine will apply, as you must not leave your home /residence.
Further information and support
Information from the NHS on the NHS website.
Information for children is available on the BBC Newsround website.
About COVID-19 coronavirus
The bug affects the lungs, making it harder to breathe.
You do not need to panic or do anything differently. The NHS says we should all:
- Wash our hands with soap and water for 20 seconds lots of times during the day.
- Wash your hands when you get home and when you arrive at work or school.
- Use alcohol gel if you cannot use soap and water.
- If you need to cough or sneeze, always use a tissue to catch it rather than your hands. If you don’t have any tissues, use your sleeve instead of your hands.