Under-fives advised to get PCR test 'immediately' if they live with someone with Covid-19

Friday, December 17, 2021

In a change to guidance published earlier in the week, new advice from the Government is that children under five who live with someone with Covid should ‘limit their contact’ with vulnerable people and take a PCR test immediately.

Under-fives are now advised to get a PCR test if they are close contacts of a positive case, PHOTO Adobe Stock
Under-fives are now advised to get a PCR test if they are close contacts of a positive case, PHOTO Adobe Stock

The updated advice from the UK Health Security Agency comes after the Government announced new rules on Tuesday that children under the age of five who are close contacts of a positive case no longer need to take ‘a test’ or self-isolate. The rules were put into question by the Early Years Alliance, which said it hoped it was a ‘case of poorly written guidance’,and urged the Government to provide clarity as a matter of urgency.

The Department for Education has now confirmed to Nursery World that the PCR test advice has been reinstated and that it was an 'inadvertent omission' when the guidance was first published and it has now been updated.

The advice from the UK Health Security Agency states, ‘Regular LFD tests are not recommended for children under five.’

If they (children under five) live with someone who has COVID-19 they are not legally required to self-isolate but you should limit their contact with anyone who is at higher risk of severe illness if infected with COVID-19 and arrange for them to take a PCR test as soon as possible.’

The Early Years Alliance welcomed the clarification.

Chief executive Neil Leitch said, ‘We welcome clarification that under-fives are still advised to take a PCR test if someone in their household is Covid-positive, though many working in the early years will be understandably frustrated that this important advice was omitted from Government guidance when it was updated earlier this week.  

‘As it stands, a child under five who has had contact with a positive Covid case outside their household can still attend their nursery, pre-school or childminding setting, as can a child who has had a positive case in their household and is awaiting their PCR test result. While we know that many settings will have their own policies in place based on their own risk assessments, it is still vital that those working on the frontline feel confident that Government policy decisions are being based on sound scientific evidence, and that this evidence is made readily available to the sector, something that is yet to happen.

‘Early years providers are working incredibly hard to ensure that they are able to remain open and that their settings are as safe as possible, but they too need to feel confident that their own safety, and that of their loved ones and colleagues, is a priority. It's vital that government now demonstrates that this is the case.’

  • The UK Health Security Agency guidance is available here 

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