What are the first three symptoms of Coronavirus in Children?

Updated: Feb 11

Parents from The Long Covid Kids campaign group report their experiences.

"A member of staff at my daughter's nursery school tested positive.

But because the member of staff had not been in work in the 48 hours prior to her symptoms starting they nursery stayed open and no one else self-isolated.

About 7 days later.

My daughter then tested positive about a week later.

I couldn't be sure when symptoms started as she didn't have obvious typical symptoms the government talks about, she just was generally unwell.

The nursery went by her positive test and not her symptoms and said being as she wasn't in a nursery in the 48 hours prior to the positive test then they didn't need to close and no one else needed to self isolate.

I have given notice to the nursery so she won't be returning"

What were the first three symptoms you noticed before getting Covid-19?

Because the symptoms are so different in children parents are often confused, and unsure.

Government information for COVID-19 and children has not been clear.

The reporting on child-related figures has been difficult to follow, sporadic and often hard to find.

Long Covid Kids are campaigning to change that.

Children present differently with symptoms of COVID-19 than adults do.

LCK ran a poll asking parents

What were the first three symptoms you noticed before getting COVID-19

The top three symptoms parents noticed were;


Tummy Ache

Sore Throat

  • Some children only had initial symptoms for a couple of days and then got better.

  • Other children were unwell on and off with niggling symptoms for weeks.

  • Some children were very unwell for less than two weeks and stayed at home.

  • Some children got very unwell and were hospitalised.

Photo credit Covid Zoe.




A study completed in China in May 2020 records cough, fever and sore throat as the most common symptoms.

The UK government has not run a campaign specifically for children and when you look at the advice given on the NHS Covid-19 testing booking site states;

"Who can get a free test

You can only get a free NHS test if at least one of the following applies:

  • you have a high temperature

  • you have a new, continuous cough

  • you’ve lost your sense of smell or taste or it’s changed

  • you’ve been asked to by a local council

  • you’re taking part in a government pilot project

and it goes on to say;

Who cannot get a free test

You cannot get a free NHS test unless you have symptoms"

Many children do not meet these requirements and parents tell us they either didn't want to waste a test, or didn't think their child qualified.

The suggested window for testing for Covid-19 in the UK used to be within the ”first 5 days of symptoms”, in October the UK government quietly changed its guidance to 'you need to get the test done in the first 8 days of having symptoms.

LCK believe this it is very likely that many parents do not get their child tested due to;

  • Lack of clarity

  • Children's symptoms not fitting the requirements stated on the NHS website

  • Children's symptoms coming and going

  • Some children's symptoms being mild and short lived

Long Covid Kids are working to change this and raise awareness.

Our opinion is that;

  • Any child that does not seem well could have Coronavirus and should be tested.

  • Any child that has been around people who have symptoms should be tested as many children are asymptomatic.

  • This is the only way we would accurately know how many children are contracting COVID-19.

Some children's symptoms being mild and short-lived we can’t know how many children will need ongoing support with long-lasting symptoms of Covid. aka Long Covid.

The CDC reported that approximately 25-35% of people who get COVID-19 will get Long Covid. While Covid Zoe reports 1 in 20.

We need to know how many children are getting COVID-19, so we can make an informed estimate of how many children will get Long Covid.

We need this information to evidence that The Long Covid Kids community needs support. Currently, the NHS is not planning on providing paediatric services at the planned Long Covid Clinics.


Children can get COVID-19

Children can spread COVID-19

Children can get Long Covid and can get seriously disabling symptoms. is a parent and patient-led campaign & support group for parents of children with Long Covid. Our story started with a short film on long-lasting symptoms of Covid in children & we are working on The Long Covid Kids Study with PeopleWith

Please donate to help us keep raising awareness, we are run by volunteers.

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