Children coronavirus symptoms: What are the key symptoms to look out for in children?

The coronavirus outbreak has taken more than 200,000 lives across the world. NHS doctors have issued a warning to medical services to watch out for an unusual but perilous reaction in children which may be linked to COVID-19. has compiled a full list of the key symptoms to look out for in children?

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he is “very worried” about the emergence of a new coronavirus-related condition which appears to be impacting children.

Speaking from Downing Street on Monday, Mr Hancock shared his concern after NHS doctors were issued an alert about a rise in an “inflammatory syndrome” in recent weeks.

The urgent alert was sent out to GPs indicating that intensive care departments in London and other parts of the UK treating severely sick children had noticed unusual symptoms.

It is unclear how many children have experienced the reaction, although the numbers will be low.

NHS England medical director Stephen Powis said they had become aware of reports of rare, severe illness in children.

He said: “It’s only in the last few days that we have seen those reports. We have asked our experts to look into this as a matter of urgency.”


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The NHS England alert reads: “Over the last 3 weeks there has been an apparent rise in the number of children of all ages presenting with a multi-system inflammatory state requiring intensive care across London and also in other regions of the UK.

“The cases have in common overlapping features of toxic shock syndrome and atypical Kawasaki Disease with blood parameters consistent with severe COVID-19 in children.

“Abdominal pain and gastrointestinal symptoms have been a common feature as has cardiac inflammation.

“This has been observed in children with confirmed PCR positive SARS-CoV-2 infection has also been observed.

“There is a growing concern that a SARS-CoV-2 related inflammatory syndrome emerging in children in the UK or that there may be another as yet unidentified infectious pathogen associated with these cases.”

Multi-system inflammatory refers to a severe immune response which can impact the body in several ways and can be extremely serious which some patients needing urgent intensive care to support the heart, lungs and sometimes other organs such as the kidneys.

Coronavirus symptoms

Most common:

  • Fever
  • Dry cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Aching muscles
  • Fatigue

Less common:

  • Phlegm buildup
  • Headache
  • Hemoptysis
  • Diarrhoea


  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat


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Coronavirus in children

Children like anyone else can contract coronavirus, but it appears children catch it less often than adults and typically it is less serious.

The key symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • A high temperature
  • A new, continuous cough, meaning a lot of coughing for more than an hour or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours.
  • The new and potentially fatal combination of symptoms includes:
  • A sore stomach
  • Heart problems
  • Abdominal pain
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms, including tummy pain, vomiting or diarrhoea.
  • Abnormal blood test results.

You are advised to call 111 or your GP surgery if your child:

  • Is under three months old and has a temperature of 38C or higher, or if you believe they have a fever.
  • Is between three and six months old and has a temperature of 39C or higher, or you think they have a fever.
  • Has other signs of the disease, such as a rash, as well as a fever.
  • Has a high temperature that has lasted for five days or more.
  • Does not want to eat or is not their usual self and you are concerned.
  • Has a fever that does not come down with paracetamol.
  • Is dehydrated, meaning their nappies are not very wet, sunken eyes and/or has no tears when they are crying.

The NHS advises you call 999 if your child:

  • Has a stiff neck
  • Has a rash which does not fade when you press a glass against it
  • Is bothered by light.
  • Has a seizure or fit for the first time meaning they cannot stop shaking.
  • Has unusually cold hands and feet.
  • Has pale, blotchy, blue or grey skin.
  • Has a weak, high-pitched cry which is unlike their usual cry.
  • Is drowsy and hard to wake.
  • Is extremely agitated which can mean they do not stop crying or is confused.
  • Finds it hard to breathe and sucks their stomach in under their ribs.
  • Has a soft spot on their head which curves outwards.
  • Is not responding like they usually do or not interested in feeding or usual activities.
  • Has pauses in their breathing (apnoeas), has an irregular breathing pattern or starts grunting
  • Becomes extremely distressed (crying inconsolably despite distraction), confused, very lethargic (difficult to wake) or unresponsive
  • Has testicular pain, especially in teenage boys.

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