Most Covid infected kids DON’T show usual symptoms – what to watch out for

KIDS don’t suffer from the same coronavirus symptoms as adults, new research has revealed.

The main symptoms of Covid-19 are a new persistent cough, a high temperature and a loss of taste and smell – but most children will mainly suffer from muscle aches and a general feeling of being unwell, experts say.

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Experts say that kids will generally feel malaise if they have contracted Covid-19


Experts say that kids will generally feel malaise if they have contracted Covid-19Credit: Getty – Contributor

A study published in Scientific Reports looked at data from 12,306 children who had tested positive for the virus.

The overall findings suggest kids have a milder course of illness when contracting Covid-19 and suffer from 11 key symptoms.

More than 18 per cent of the children in the study had symptoms such as fever, malaise, muscle or joint pain, and disturbances of smell or taste, study author Pakaj Arora from the University of Birmingham in Alabama said.

Experts found 16.5 per cent of children had shortness of breath and a cough, with 13.9 per cent also suffering from symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Around 8.1 per cent also suffered from a rash while 4.8 per cent had headaches.

When it comes to the sort of treatment children need for Covid, the experts said the risk of kids needing critical care and ventilation was similar across all age groups.


The study reported just 5.5 per cent of the children in the study were hospitalised with the virus.

Of that 5.5 per cent, 17.6 per cent needed critical care (around 118 patients) and 4.1 (38 patients) per cent needed ventilation.

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It found the risk of hospitalisation was the same in girl and boys – but it was higher in non-Hispanic black and Hispanic children compared with non-Hispanic white children.

The authors added: “Given the high frequency of cases without typical symptoms, increased vigilance, innovative screening, and frequent testing may be required among school-going children and their immediate contacts.

“Implementation of these strategies may need to be enhanced among children from racial/ethnic minorities to curtail the existing Covid-19 related health disparities.”

Commenting on the study Dr Julian Tang, Honorary Associate Professor/Clinical Virologist, University of Leicester said the findings raise concerns about children spreading the virus across society.

The 11 coronavirus symptoms in children

Experts at the University of Birmingham in the US say these are the most common symptoms that children present with after contracting Covid-19.

Symptoms include:

  • fever
  • malaise (a general feeling of being unwell)
  • muscle or joint pain
  • disturbances of smell or taste
  • shortness of breath
  • cough
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • rash
  • headaches

He said a previous study with local hospital paediatric team also found about 20 per cent (16/80) asymptomatic SARS-COV-2 in children, over 1 year of paediatric admissions.

Dr Tang said: “This new and much larger study finds a much higher (~75%) proportion of children without typical Covid-19 symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath.

“However, this higher atypical symptomatic proportion may well be explained by the fact that community (non-hospitalised) children are also included in the study – which are more representative of the majority of otherwise healthy children that are attending school, for example.

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“More importantly, these findings also raise concerns about the spread of the virus via infected children in society, when most may not exhibit typical Covid-19 symptoms.”

Data from experts at the ZOE Symptom Tracker app had also previously revealed that kids had different symptoms to adults.

The app found that 52 per cent of school aged kids who tested positive for virus did not log classic adult symptoms.

A third of children who tested positive never logged any of the 20 symptoms listed in the app, which include muscle aches and confusion, and experts suggest that this could mean that many kids are asymptomatic.

Data from the app has now revealed that the top symptom in children is fatigue.

The second top symptom was a headache with 53 per cent suffering, fever is next with 49 per cent suffering with this, 38 per cent suffered with a sore throat and 35 per cent suffered with a loss of appetite.

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It also found that 15 per cent of kids who test positive also present with an unusual skin rash.

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