SKIPPING meals could be a new coronavirus warning sign to look out for in children, experts have warned.
The NHS states that the key Covid symptoms are a new persistent cough, a fever and a loss of taste or smell.
⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates
But now experts have warned that the main symptoms in children could differ from adults – including a loss of appetite.
It comes as children across the country are set to return to school next month, while deaths from the killer bug have continued to fall.
A major study also revealed that Covid-19 does not kill healthy children and severe disease is rare.
Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London said children are suffering from around five symptoms that are not consistent with those adults are experiencing.
Speaking on BBC Inside Science, Prof Spector said that data from the Covid Symptom Tracker App has revealed that the top five symptoms in children aged under 18 who tested positive for Covid are headaches, fatigue, fever, sore throat and skipping meals.
“These are different from the top five we see in adults which includes generally the cough and the shortness of breath and the loss of smell.
“That’s really important to realise – skipping meals and fatigue are really important, as are headaches.”
Prof Spector said there are currently no clear differences between children in primary school and high school.
He added: “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.
Prof Spector said the symptoms are especially important to note as children begin to return to schools.
So far the Covid Symptom Tracker App has data from 300,000 children, reported by their patents.
He added that some schools have agreed to use the app when children go back to school in order to capture data regarding their symptoms.
This could also help identify how and if children are spreaders of the virus.
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.”
Paul Hunter, who is a professor of medicine at Norwich Medical School agreed that symptoms are different for different age groups.
He said that part of the problem with the virus is that the classic symptoms that we all know have been derived from observing patients who had been admitted to hospital.
Prof Hunter added: “I think when you look more widely in society there is a range of symptoms, not everyone gets fever, sometimes the fever can be very fleeting, there are reports of skin rashes.
“We found certainly in residents of elderly care homes that relatively few of them have the classic triad and it’s often quite non specific symptoms they complain about and I think the same is likely to be the case for children.”