Health

Coronavirus update: The surprising sign your child could have the COVID-19 virus

Coronavirus symptoms are listed by the NHS as a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste. But a new study has found another possible sign in children – an upset tummy.

COVID-19 was found to be more likely to give children an upset tummy than a cough, according to a study carried out by researchers at Queen’s University Belfast.

The aim of the study, which began in May and is ongoing, is to assess the number of children who have had COVID-19, as well as “the symptomatology of infection and if those children have antibodies that may be able to fight off the infection”.

More than 1,000 children from Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales had their antibodies measured in trial called ‘Seroprevalence of SARS-Cov-2 infection in healthy children’.

Their antibodies were measured via blood tests at baseline. Further tests were then planned at two months and six months.

READ MORE: Coronavirus symptoms: Full list of 11 warning signs – are you at risk of COVID-19 infection?

The researchers said they have found following the first wave of the pandemic, seven percent of the children tested positive for antibodies, indicating a previous COVID-19 infection.

They added: “Half of the children with COVID-19 reported no symptoms, and gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms (such as diarrhoea and vomiting) were also more common than cough or changes in the children’s sense of smell or taste, which may have implications for the testing criteria used for children.

“The findings also showed young children under 10 years of age were just as likely to have evidence of prior infection as older children, and that asymptomatic children were just as likely to develop antibodies as symptomatic children.”

Dr Tom Waterfield, a researcher from the Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine at Queen’s University Belfast led the study. 

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He said: “Following the first wave of the pandemic in the UK, we have learnt that half of children participating in this study are asymptomatic with SARS-CoV-2 infection, and those with symptoms do not typically have a cough or changes to their smell/taste, with GI upset a far more common symptom.

“This study has shown that we may want to consider refining the testing criteria for children to include GI symptoms.”

The study is being led by Queen’s University in partnership with the Belfast Health and Social Care trust Northern Ireland and Public Health England.

Professor Ian Young, Chief Scientific Advisor and Director of HSC Research and Development, added: “Research studies are vital at this time, and thanks to efforts such as the COVID Warriors study, we now know more about COVID-19 in terms of the exposure of children in the UK to the SARS-CoV-2 virus since the pandemic began.

“These significant findings can now be explored further as this research continues to monitor community transmission in children, to help tackle the spread of COVID-19.”

Other symptoms of COVID-19 to look out for

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer more extensive lists of coronavirus symptoms.

WHO says the most common symptoms are:

FeverDry coughTirednessLess common symptoms include:Aches and painsSore throatDiarrhoeaConjunctivitisHeadacheLoss of taste or smellA rash on skin, or discolouration of fingers or toes

The CDC lists:

Fever or chillsCoughShortness of breath or difficulty breathingFatigueMuscle or body achesHeadacheNew loss of taste or smellSore throatCongestion or runny noseNausea or vomitingDiarrhoea

It adds: “This list does not include all possible symptoms. CDC will continue to update this list as we learn more about COVID-19.”

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