Diarrhoea, stomach aches and sickness have been identified as coronavirus symptoms in children as schools across Britain re-opened.
The symptoms don’t appear in the official NHS list of three key Covid-19 signs – fever, coughing and loss of taste and smell – with officials reluctant to add them to avoid unnecessary worry, according to reports.
In contrast, the US Centers for Disease Control already lists nausea or vomiting and diarrhoea as possible symptoms.
Scientists at Northern Ireland’s University of Belfast claim they are major indicators of the potentially killer bug in kids, but coughing is not so reliable an indicator in youngsters as it is in adults.
Dr Tom Waterfield said, “We are finding that diarrhoea and vomiting is a symptom reported by some children and I think adding it to the list of known symptoms is worth considering.”
The Belfast trial saw around 1,000 kids – with an average age of 10 – blood tested to identify if they’d had the bug recently with 68 having antibodies with fever the most common in around a third, according to medRxiv figures.
Coughing was also a common trait, though less so than a fever, and smell and taste loss featured just six times – while around 50 percent of those who tested positive reported being asymptomatic.
Thirteen kids said they’d had diarrhoea, vomiting and stomach aches.
None of the 68 trial subjects had become seriously ill or needed to be taken to hospital.
By analysing those with fever, coughs and sense loss, Dr Waterfield and colleagues correctly pinpointed 76 per cent of children with the disease.
And after adding those with stomach issues, this rose to 97 per cent.
Dr Waterfield added: “This study demonstrates that approximately half of children are asymptomatic when infected with SARS-CoV-2 and that current UK testing strategies will fail to diagnose the majority of paediatric infections.”
A Department of Health and Social Care official said symptoms are constantly under review as it continues to understand the virus and urged those with key signs to get tested.
Millions of children returned to the classroom this week in the UK after coronavirus crisis forced the closure of many schools for nearly six months.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson warned parents that children risked a “huge dent in their future life chances” if they did not return to the classroom.