HAVING symptoms of a cold is not a sign your child has coronavirus, a top medic has claimed.
Professor Tim Spector, an epidemiologist at King's College London, said that a runny nose, sneezing and congestion is highly unlikely to be Covid-19.
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A severe headache and tiredness or fatigue is a better indicator of the illness, he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
Prof Spector, who runs the Covid Symptom Tracker app, said: "What we are seeing is that if people are particularly worried at the moment about colds or Covid is that if they don't have this combination of symptoms quite severely its highly unlikely that their symptoms are actually related.
"We have to realise that perhaps 98 per cent of all tests done at the moment are negative so many people are getting it wrong.
"We've also shown some negative signs in our app so that if you do have a runny nose or congestion or sneezing that's really a sign that you absolutely do not have Covid."
'DON'T OVERBURDEN SYSTEM'
It comes as infections across the country rise again, with many people unable to get their hands on a test.
Prof Spector said that there are around 6,500 new Covid cases every day, which on a countrywide basis is "very small" and means that in most cases people who are getting tested don't have the virus.
With the Health Secretary warning swabs could be rationed, Prof Spector has urged people not to attempt to order a test if they have "a sniffle".
"Certainly for the next few weeks, while the whole system is stretched, that is the sensible advice," he said.
"By all means keep your kid at home, but don't rush around the country trying to get a test for something that is highly likely to be a cold and not Covid."
Don't rush around the country trying to get a test for something that is highly likely to be a cold and not Covid
He added: "If you don't have the headache, the fatigue, and you do have sniffles and a runny nose in a way regardless of what else you have got it's still unlikely for you to have Covid and don't try and overburden the system with trying to get a test."
Prof Spector said: "We have to start thinking of ways to exclude it rather than just going on this standard criteria if you have any one of these [symptoms]."
Through the symptom tracker study, Prof Spector and his team are able to gather data from four million Brits who have downloaded the app.
The researchers were able to flag early on in the pandemic that a loss taste and smell was being frequently reported by users.
It was later added to the NHS official coronavirus symptoms list.
Last month, the experts noticed more parents reporting cases where children skipping meals had later tested positive for coronavirus.
This led the team to warn that Covid symptoms may be different in children compared with adults.
He said that skipping meals, fatigue and headaches were really important to look out for in kids.
Prof Spector said there are currently no clear differences between children in primary school and high school.
Speaking to the BBC last month, he said: "We did also pick up skin rashes as quite a common feature in children and they can be as young as babies as well.
"And these rashes can come before any other symptoms, or they can come after other symptoms and that’s increasingly a sign in kids that can’t tell their parents what’s going on."
He added that the current government guidance on symptoms is the same for children as it is for adults and cautioned that many cases could be missed by following this methodology.
So far the app has collected data from 300,000 children, reported by their patents.
Prof Spector encouraged parents to sign up to the app on behalf of their children.
He added: "That way we can start to take control of this ourselves and not rely on waiting for other people to find out what’s going on.
"I think it’s empowering that everyone learns what these symptoms are and starts to act on it and together we can make a big difference."
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