Should I get my child tested for COVID-19?

How and when do I get my child tested for COVID-19?

We are getting a lot of calls regarding COVID-19 testing for children. Please read the information below.

How do I arrange a Covid-19 test?

In order to arrange a test you should go online to the following website:

When do I or my child need the test?

If you or your child has any of the main coronavirus symptoms – either a new continuous cough, a fever, or a loss of or change in smell and taste – you should get tested. If your child doesn’t have any of the above three symptoms of COVID-19 but has other cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, they don’t need to be tested.

You should have your child tested within three days of their symptoms starting, as tests are only effective for five days after the symptoms first appear.

What exactly do you mean by a continuous cough?

Your child needs tested if they have a cough that has lasted for more than an hour, if they have had three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours, or if they are coughing more than usual.

What is a high temperature?

A high temperature is feeling hot to the touch on your chest or back. If you have a thermometer you can take their temperature – a high temperature is 37.8C or higher. They may feel warm, cold or shivery.

Do I need to self-isolate my child and the rest of the family while I wait for the test?

Your child needs to self isolate and not go to school or nursery until they either test negative or they have been in self isolation for 10 days from when they first got ill. If symptoms worsen or last for more than 10 days, call 111. If they still have a fever for more than 10 days, they need to continue isolating for 48 hours after it ends.

Unfortunately everyone within the household needs to isolate for 14 days whether or not they have symptoms. This is because they can take that long to develop and you can pass the virus on even if you don’t have symptoms yet. This means any brothers or sisters need to stay off school or nursery and no one should be leaving the house unless in an emergency or to get tested.

 Tips for going for the test with a child

  • If you’re taking your child to a test centre, make sure you pack tissues, hand sanitiser, face coverings, your mobile, a pen and piece of paper, a favourite toy or book to distract them, something to drink and maybe a treat for afterwards.  Bear in mind that you may have to climb from the front seat to the back to carry out the test on your child, so it’s a good idea to wear loose, comfortable clothes.
  • The test comes with an instruction booklet that takes you through the process step-by-step. Make sure you read through this carefully and have a good look at the pictures before making a start – your kids could look at a book or watch a video on your phone while you’re doing this to keep them occupied.
  • Before you carry out the test, explain the process to your child so they know what to expect. Show them the swab and explain that you need to tickle their nose and throat with it. You could tell them that although it may be a bit uncomfortable, it’s important they don’t push the swab away, because it will help you find out if they have coronavirus. You could also say that although it may make them gag, it won’t make them sick, so they shouldn’t worry about that. Explain that it won’t take long, and you can do something fun together afterwards.
  • You could show them how the process works using a favourite toy – brave teddy will keep very still while he has his throat and nose swabbed!
  • If you live with another adult, it’s a good idea to get them involved too, either to come with you to the test centre or to help you carry out the test at home. (Remember that you shouldn’t be meeting anyone who isn’t a member of your household when someone has coronavirus symptoms.) One of you could distract and comfort the child while the other carries out the test. If your child is small, one of you could hold them on your knee. If you are driving, one adult could sit in the back with the child.
  • When you take the throat swab, ask them to open up really wide and say ‘ah’, and to keep saying ‘ah’ while you take the sample. You need to rub the swab gently across their tonsils for around 10-20 seconds. It’s a good idea to shine the torch on your phone into their mouth so you can see their tonsils more clearly.
  • If it’s impossible to get a throat swab you can take two nose swabs instead, one from each nostril. Bear in mind that the results won’t be as accurate from this, however.
  • The swab can leave an unpleasant taste in the mouth, so make sure you have drinks or a snack to hand to take away the taste.
  • When it’s all over, thank them for being so good and then do something fun together like watch a favourite movie or play a game (although remember that you need to stay at home and isolate until you get the test results).

What if the test comes back as positive?

If your child tests positive they need to isolate for 10 days from the day their symptoms first appeared. Everyone else in the house will need to isolate for 14 days from when these symptoms first appeared.

If my child is self-isolating can I go out to do shopping for food or medicine?

No, everyone in the household should isolate which means nobody should leave the house unless in an emergency or to get tested. Ask your family, friends, or neighbours if they can collect essentials for you like food or medicine, or arrange for things to be delivered.