COVID-19: information following a positive test result

2 Dec 2020, 3:49 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.You can also find the latest news, information and resources in our COVID-19 information hub. 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)

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 self-isolate from the 14 days of the last contact. 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 and you will be required to self-isolate for 10 (positive child) and 14 (household contacts and child if admitted to hospital) days in line with government guidance.

Following self-isolation days, your child can return to school and other activities. The household contacts should only get tested if they show signs and symptoms of COVID-19. If at the end of the 14 days they have developed no signs and symptoms the self-isolation can end and they can return to normal.

If your child is at GOSH when they get a positive result, they will be managed in isolation precautions until they have tested negative twice for COVID-19. Your clinical team can provide more information on this if needed.

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.

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, 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 (570.5 KB)