COVID-19

What is COVID-19?

Coronavirus or COVID-19 is a virus that affects the lungs and therefore people’s breathing. In humans the coronaviruses are a frequent cause of the ‘common cold’ causing upper respiratory tract infection, cough, fever, and a runny nose. As this is a new strain of the virus, very few people have had it before so very few people have become immune to it. That is why lots of people are getting the COVID-19 virus infection.

What are the symptoms in children?

Reassuringly and importantly, COVID-19 appears to cause a mild illness in most children. The main symptoms are: • Fever • Cough • Sore throat • Runny nose • Difficulty breathing These are also the symptoms of many of the common viruses we know children can get, not just COVID-19, which can make it difficult to work out who may or may not have COVID-19.

Does COVID-19 affect children?

Evidence suggests that although children do develop COVID-19 very few children will develop a severe infection with COVID-19.

What should I do if I believe my child is seriously unwell?

You should continue to seek NHS help through your GP, NHS 111, 999 or emergency department (A&E) if your child becomes acutely unwell and you believe may be suffering from a serious or life-threatening condition. Hospitals are safer than your own home if you are in need of emergency care. We have reorganised our services, which includes protecting patients who are being seen for conditions other than COVID-19.

COVID-19 and fever

Fever is a normal response to infection. COVID-19 is one possible cause for fever. A fever is a temperature of 38 degrees or above. Your child’s fever only needs treating if it is distressing for them. It is important to know what is causing the fever and sometimes children need treatment for the underlying cause of the fever. If you think your child has the COVID-19 infection, try to use paracetamol to treat the fever.

When should I seek medical advice for my child?

You will need to seek medical advice if: • your child is under three months old and has fever of 38 degrees or higher • your child is 3-6 months old and has a fever of 39 degrees or higher • your child’s fever gas lasted for longer than five days • you are concerned your child is not getting better or is getting worse • you are worried • your child has signs of a serious illness.

What if my child has an underlying medical condition?

We recognise that families in this situation will have additional worries and concerns. The NHS advice at present is that children who are thought to be more vulnerable to flu are likely to be more vulnerable to COVID-19. Please follow this link to NHS advice for people at higher risk of COVID-19 infection: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/advice-for-people-at-high-risk/ If you have a planned outpatient appointment in the next couple of months you will be contacted to discuss alternative ways that we could review your children to reduce the risk of them coming into contact with the virus. If you have an open admission to our paediatric unit, please contact the ward before coming into the children’s unit so that we can arrange a safe place for your child’s assessment.

What happens when my child is admitted to our children’s unit

Given the current COVID-19 pandemic, all hospitals are taking extra precautions by managing patients with fever and/or cough in specifically identified areas. At Musgrove Park Hospital this is on Acorn Ward. Your child will be admitted to Acorn Ward if they have: • fever • a cough • a sore throat • a runny nose These are all symptoms of many of the common viruses we know children can get, not just COVID-19, which makes it difficult for us to work out who may or may not have COVID-19 quickly.

Why is every cubicle door shut on Acorn Ward?

COVID-19 is spread by droplets – which means to become infected with COVID-19 you need to be in close contact with someone with COVID-19 who is coughing (within 1-2 metres of them). It is very important that you stay in your designated cubicle with the door shut. This way we are less likely to spread the infection.

Why are the staff in aprons, masks and gloves?

In case any of our patients or their parents/carers do have COVID-19, colleagues at our children’s unit are wearing aprons, masks and gloves to prevent them spreading the infection to others and to protect themselves from getting unwell.

Why can’t we go into the kitchen on Acorn Ward?

Droplets containing COVID-19 can survive for several hours/days on hard surfaces, so to minimise the possible spread of infection, the kitchen is closed to all patients and families with the above symptoms. You will be provided with refreshments within Acorn Ward.

Can we use the toilet and shower on Acorn Ward?

Yes of course, but please only use the designated Acorn Ward bathrooms (our colleagues will direct you) and make sure everyone washes their hands thoroughly (clear guidance is displayed at all sinks).

Will my child get a swab for COVID-19?

If your child has any of the symptoms described above and requires admission to our ward then they will get swabbed. If your child is well enough to go home they will not be swabbed. Laboratories nationwide are working around the clock to process swabs but unfortunately, at present, there is not enough capacity to swab everyone.

After my child is admitted to Acorn Ward, what happens next?

After being seen by a nurse, your child will be seen by at least one doctor (sometimes more). They may get treatment or a period of observation. The observation can be for up to six hours and is important as it gives us time to see if your child is eating, drinking, and how their heart rate, temperature, and breathing are changing. Once a decision has been made your child will either be able to go home (with paperwork and information) or will be admitted to the ward.

Can I visit my child on the children’s and neonatal units?

At present national and local guidance is to limit visitors to children’s and neonatal units to help protect our patients and colleagues. Visiting is limited to one parent or guardian per child. We know this is extremely difficult for families and we would lie to thank you for your patience and understanding at this time.

What should I do when my child is ready to go home following a period of observation or a stay in hospital?

Your child will have been fully assessed and is now well enough to go home, but they do have symptoms of a viral infective illness, which may be caused by COVID-19. It is vital that you follow the clear government advice on what to do when you get home. This is regularly updated with the latest advice: www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/