University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust

COVID-19 advice for parents of children with long term medical conditions

COVID-19 is a worry for all parents as there are currently no vaccines against the infection. Antiviral drugs are being tested in research studies but so far none have been shown to be effective in treating coronavirus. However, this situation may change.

Encouragingly, data from China and from Italy show that the infection is far milder in children than in adults, although we do not yet understand exactly why this is the case.

Only two in every 100 diagnosed cases of coronavirus in China have been in children aged less than 18 years. From what we know so far, there have not been a large number of deaths in China even in children or teenagers who we would expect to be more at risk, such as those undergoing cancer treatment, with chest problems or with weakened immune systems.

The virus is spread by droplets. The best way to reduce the risk of your child being infected is to:

  • Get them to wash your hands regularly with soap and water, especially after being in public places. They can use an alcohol sanitiser gel if soap and water is not available.
  • Try to avoid them touching their face, especially their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. This is how the virus will get from their hands into their body.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
  • There is no treatment for COVID-19 and children will not be swabbed unless they need to be admitted to hospital. If your child meets the criteria for COVID-19 (fever and/or new continuous cough), your whole family will need to self-isolate for 14 days. Read the full government advice here.
  • Most children will be able to be managed at home with their usual treatments. Make sure you continue giving them all their regular treatments (including immunosuppression) as normal. You can give them paracetamol if they have a fever.
  • Fever and respiratory symptoms should be managed in exactly the same way as you would have done before COVID-19 came along. If you’re not sure if your child needs to be seen by a healthcare professional, visit the Healthier Together website here to help you decide.
  • Don’t think that every child with a fever has COVID-19. It’s important to watch for signs of serious illness and to seek help appropriately (even if this means taking them to hospital). If your child has a fever and you’re not sure if they need to be seen by a healthcare professional, visit the Healthier Together website here to help you decide.
  • For more information about COVID-19, look at the resources on the Healthier Together website and if you think that your child needs to be seen, contact NHS 111 online .

If your child is under a specialist team in the hospital and you are worried about your child, contact them in the usual way for further advice.