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.
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 (16th June 2020) 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 providing specialty guidance for patients, including those who may be considered immunocompromised or part of a vulnerable group.
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. We don't yet know for certain if this new inflammatory syndrome is directly linked to COVID-19.
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.
A: Our clinical teams are providing specific information for children and young people with underlying health problems, in line with advice from national bodies. You can find guidance for specific patient groups at https://gosh.com.kw/covid-19/coronavirus-covid-19-specialty-information-sheets
If you have been asked to start or stop ‘shielding’ your child, you can find more information below.
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 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: The NHS is contacting anyone identified as being extremely vulnerable to, or at highest clinical risk from COVID-19. You may have received guidance from the NHS in the form of a letter, a text, or both. You should follow this advice carefully, which may involve ‘shielding’.
As we learn more about coronavirus, guidance is changing around who should take extra steps to protect themselves and what those steps should be. The Government has said restrictions for those shielding will be reduced from 6th July 2020, and that the shielding programme will be paused from 1st August 2020. These plans may change and we recommend you check the latest advice on the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) website.
We appreciate that this advice might cause anxiety, so we have put together some special guidance for families who have been advised to shield, advised to stop shielding, or are unsure whether their child should be shielded. You can access this online at gosh.nhs.uk/covid-19-and-vulnerable-children.
As we learn more about the virus, there may be more changes to the list of patient groups that need to shield and what shielding means. Our clinical teams are reviewing shielded patient lists and will contact you if they have any further guidance for your child.
We recognise that some families may find it difficult to shield their child – we’re here to help. GOSH has a number of support services available to families to help you cope and stay shielded. As well as speaking to your child’s clinical team, please contact the PALS team on 020 7829 7862 or email@example.com for confidential support and advice.
While the Government is still advising people to shield, you can also request support from the Government’s National Shielding Programme, which is providing basic necessities, like food and care, to help individuals and families stay at home as much as possible. Register at www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable.
A: It may help to look at the shielding lists outlined by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) website. If you’re still unsure, please contact your clinical team. As we learn more about how the virus affects different groups of people, this guidance may be updated.
As well as patients, the NHS has also been contacting clinicians to outline the groups advised to shield. This is so that they, including clinicians at GOSH, can review their patient lists and add in any patients they think should be on the shielding list.
You can also find advice from your child’s clinical team in our specialty guidance sheets at gosh.nhs.uk/covid-19-specialty-guides, and advice about shielding children at gosh.nhs.uk/covid-19-and-vulnerable-children.
If you have any questions or concerns about shielding your child, please contact your clinical team.
A: National guidance is changing to allow people in England to spend more time outside of their homes, including some children going back to school. However, everyone in the UK should still keep a safe distance from others when out and about, and avoid large gatherings. You can find more information on gov.uk.
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.
Please note that restrictions on travel, work and time spent outdoors may differ depending on where you live in the UK. You can find more guidance at nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.
If your child has been identified as being at high clinical risk from COVID-19, you can read special shielding advice from GOSH at gosh.nhs.uk/covid-19-and-vulnerable-children. This provides practical advice on what shielding might mean for your child and your family.
If you are an adult who has been identified as being at high clinical risk from COVID-19, you should follow the shielding guidance on the NHS website.
If your child or a member of your family develops symptoms of COVID-19, please do not go to your GP or pharmacist – stay at home and use the NHS 111 online service at 111.nhs.uk for urgent medical advice and inform your clinical team at GOSH.
A: No, taking medication 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.
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.
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.
To make sure we can deliver care to children and young people who need it most urgently, we have changed the way we run some of our services, including postponing some procedures, appointments and admissions.
Our clinical teams are looking at each patient carefully to work out which patients absolutely need to come into hospital, which clinics and consultations can be done another way such as video or phone calls, and which appointments, procedures and admissions can be rescheduled safely.
We appreciate your patience as we make sure this happens safely.
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 only postponing procedures and appointments when we think it’s safe to do so.
As we begin re-starting planned appointments and admissions in the coming weeks, your clinical team is working hard to prioritise those who need our care most urgently. 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.
A: Schools are already open to some children in priority groups. Read the latest information about which groups are being invited to return on gov.uk.
Alongside implementing new safety measures, like smaller class sizes, increased cleaning and timetable changes, schools will be asked to carefully consider the health and social needs of each student. Children will be risk assessed to determine whether it’s safe for them to return to the classroom. For those who are considered to be part of a clinically vulnerable group, for now it will be recommended that they are taught remotely.
Important decisions about how your child accesses education during COVID-19 should be made jointly between you and your child’s school. If you have questions or concerns about your child’s schooling, we’d encourage you to contact their school directly.
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.