COVID-19: information following a positive test result

10 Nov 2021, 3 p.m.

We understand that you might be worried about coronavirus – also known as COVID-19 – particularly if your child has a long-term health condition. This information sheet from the Infection Control team at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) sets out our advice for children, young people, parents and carers when a patient receives a positive test for COVID-19.

Please read this alongside our general FAQs for families at You can also find the latest news, information and resources in our COVID-19 information hub at

This information comes from government guidance and has been approved by the clinical team at GOSH.

What is the coronavirus (COVID-19)?

COVID-19 disease is caused by the SARS2 coronavirus.It spreads in a similar way to other cold and flu viruses. To control its spread we need to be aware of the symptoms.

Many people who get sick with COVID-19 can have problems with their lungs and therefore breathing. Common signs and symptoms include:

  • new continuous cough
  • temperature of 37.8°C or more
  • loss of, or change in, normal sense of smell (anosmia) or taste (ageusia)

Other symptoms include:

  • Extreme Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Myalgia ( muscle pain)
  • Sore Throat
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Severe persistant headache lasting >24 hours
  • Diarrhoea
  • Anyone with symptoms of a viral respiratory illness (cold) should be tested for COVID-19 by PCR

Does COVID-19 affect children?

The evidence to date suggests that although children do develop COVID-19, very few children will develop a severe infection with COVID-19, even if they have an underlying health condition.

At GOSH, we are taking extra precautions to keep our young patients safe, including providing specialty guidance for patients who may be considered immunocompromised or part of a vulnerable group, which you can find at

Who is GOSH testing?

We're listening carefully to the latest national guidance on COVID-19 testing, to make sure we keep you, your family and our staff as safe as possible. In line with the latest advice, we are now testing certain groups of patients at GOSH.

Your child will be tested for COVID-19 if they are admitted as an emergency, admitted overnight as part of an elective admission or if they are coming in for certain procedures which involve staff assisting with airway management. Your child will also be tested if they show signs of COVID-19 during their admission.

The test will involve collecting a bit of mucus from the nose and/or throat, using a small tube or cotton bud. It might be a little uncomfortable and make your child cough or sneeze. Find out exactly what’s involved at

This will help us ensure we keep you, your child and everyone else at GOSH as safe as possible.

What happens if a patient at GOSH tests positive?

If your child tests positive for COVID-19, we will still ensure they get the care and treatment they need. If you have any concerns about having the test, please contact your clinical team.

If they are coming in for a planned admission or procedure we may re-arrange this until they are negative if it is not urgent. This reduces the risk for staff and your child. This will be discussed and decided with your clinical team.

If the procedure or admission is urgent, your child may still be admitted but will be nursed in a single room (isolation). We will ask you only to visit your child and not go to other areas of the hospital and wear a hospital mask at all times when not in a cubicle with your child. We will explain all this to you if this happens.

What do we need to do and who do we need to tell?

If your child tests positive for COVID-19 it is important that we follow government guidance and identify any contacts that your child may have been in contact with since the test was taken and two days prior to the test.

The Infection Control Team will follow up any contacts within the hospital (including staff) but it is important that YOU follow up any community contacts so that they can follow the most up to date government guidance in respect of their vaccination status and age.. Current guidance is if fully vaccinated adults and those under the age of 18 years and 6 months do not need to isolate in the community.

All close contacts of a positive case are advised to get a PCR test.

This may include schools or childminders.

What happens when the patient is no longer COVID-19 positive?

The way we manage children who have tested positive for COVID-19 is slightly different in the hospital compared to the community.

If you are at home following the positive result, your child will be required to self-isolate for 10 days. (14 days if admitted to hospital) in line with government guidance.

Following self-isolation, and if they are well again, your child can return to school and other activities

Household & community contacts will be required to follow government guidance with regards to isolation.

Self-isolation requirements for contacts is dependent upon age and vaccination status, Current guidance is if a person is a fully vaccinated adult or under the age of 18 years and 6 months you do not need to isolate in the community. Those who do not meet these criteria will need to isolate for the 10 full days following the contact. All contacts are advised get a PCR test.

Whilst at GOSH, any child who has tested positive will need to have follow up tests to come out of isolation when in the hospital or when they visit the hospital as an outpatient. The numbers and types of these tests will depend upon whether your child is considered immunosuppressed or not.

When will my child be able to come out of isolation when at GOSH

If your child tests positive, we will add an alert on to their records.

When they attend or are admitted to GOSH they will be managed as positive until they meet specific step down criteria.

The step-down process involves further testing, the number of tests and what tests will depend upon whether your child is considered or classed as immunosuppressed or not.

At GOSH we follow the “Green Book” criteria for assessing immunosuppression.

For any patient who has tested positive this step down cannot start until 14 days after they first tested positive.

If your child is NOT classed as immunosuppressed, then one negative follow up set of swabs is required.

If your child is classed as immunosuppressed then 2 sets of swabs plus 2 stool samples, a week apart is required.

Your clinical team will advise and arrange this testing with you.

What is GOSH doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep patients, families and staff safe?

We have clear processes in place to immediately isolate anyone found to be positive, while continuing to deliver expert care and follow strict infection control guidelines. If you or your child have symptoms before you come to GOSH, please call your clinical team before you leave, for advice and support.

If you or your child has been in contact, in the last 48hrs, with someone who has tested positive please call your clinical team before you leave, for advice and support.

Staff who start to show symptoms while they are at work will immediately remove themselves from clinical areas for the safety of their patients.

For key hospital staff who have been isolating at home, or who have been identified as a contact, we have a very clear process to decide when and how it’s safe for them to return to work. This goes above and beyond Government guidelines and is designed to make sure no-one returns to work unless they are fully recovered and not putting others at risk.

Further information and support

Information from the NHS at 

Information for children is available on the BBC Newsround website.

Download this page as a PDF below:

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – information for children, young people and families following a positive test result (312.8 KB)