Signs of Omicron in children - doctor shares key symptoms to look out for

By Emma Gill & Lauren Harte

A doctor has outlined the Omicron signs and symptoms to look out for in children.

With the country still not reaching the peak of this wave of Coronavirus and cases of the variant still on the rise, the GP has offered some advice on what parents should look out for.

There has been no official information on any differing symptoms with this new strain of Covid.

The three main symptoms of Coronavirus outlined by the NHS are a new persistent cough, a high temperature and a loss of taste and smell. But for adults, the recognisable symptoms of Omicron have included sneezing, aches, fatigue and sore throat.

Dr Laurence Dorman has drawn from his experience working as a GP to outline how symptoms have been developing in children.

Warning of tiredness, headache and a high temperature, he told BelfastLive : "The symptoms are different in children and with this new variant, some people are reporting more coryza, the medical term for cold-like symptoms, rather than flu.

Dr Laurence Dorman (Royal College of General Practitioners)

"Coryza is more runny noses and less serious symptoms whereas we know from the very first Alpha wave that people were presenting with more classic flu symptoms and were aching and sore.

"It's very difficult with children as temperatures can be quite common in that age group. The big thing we ask people to do is to trust their instincts. Parents know their children well and they know when they're not well."

Children under five do not need to take a PCR or a LFT, even if they have Covid-19 symptoms. They can take a test if a doctor advises it, or if a parent believes a test is absolutely necessary and in the best interests of a child.

Dr Dorman, who is chair of the Royal College of Practitioners in Northern Ireland, said parents should be wary of younger ones spreading it to vulnerable relatives.

"The guidelines are still the same in terms of symptoms - a high temperature, new continuous cough or a loss of taste and smell. While some of these have changed, it's worth keeping track of them," he said.

"What we do particularly encourage is that people keep a high level of suspicion, especially if they have vulnerable family members.

"If you have an elderly relative or family member on immunosuppressant tablets and with underlying medical conditions, it does no harm to be cautious and sensible."

He also explained that it’s important parents recognise that with kids, it isn't always the case that they only develop mild disease.

"While it is mild in a lot of cases, we have heard some alarming reports from America of children requiring hospital admission with Covid," he said. "There is also the very real possibility of long Covid in children and we have seen some evidence of that too."

The number of children suffering long Covid symptoms last summer sparked the creation of 15 new paediatric hubs across the country, including one at the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital.

Consultant paediatrician Dr Swaminathan Kannan told us he'd seen children displaying symptoms ranging from generalised fatigue, aches and pains and brain fog, to chest pains, breathing problems and diarrhoea.

One of the country's long Covid clinics is at the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital (MEN Media)

Vulnerable primary school children are expected to be offered a low-dose Covid-19 vaccine from late January.

Last month, government vaccine advisers said five to 11-year-olds with an underlying health condition should receive two doses, eight weeks apart.

They also advised vaccination for those five to 11-year-olds who are household contacts of people who are immunosuppressed.

A decision on vaccinating all children in this age range has not yet been made.

"The balance of evidence is that children should be vaccinated because it helps prevent transmission," Dr Dorman said.

"We would still encourage vaccination in children but it is a more nuanced argument than vaccinating say an elderly person or someone with significant underlying medical conditions."


What is inkl?

Important stories

See news based on value, not advertising potential. Get the latest news from around the world.

Trusted newsrooms

We bring you reliable news from the world’s most experienced journalists in the most trusted newsrooms.

Ad-free reading

Read without interruptions, distractions or intrusions of privacy.