GP practices in St Helens have had an influx in calls from worried parents unsure whether their child has caught a cold or coronavirus.

Several schools have had to take action since the start of new term after staff or pupils tested positive for Covid-19, as the local infection rate continues to rise.

Dr Hilary Flett, a governing body member for St Helens CCG, has now revealed that a lot of parents are contacting GP practices for advice on coughs and colds and about testing.

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The Mill Street Medical Centre GP stressed the importance of keeping children in school, and has made a vlog to help parents make the right decision.

Dr Flett said: “The autumn term does signal the return of coughs and colds and snots and sneezes, and with Covid chucked into the mix it’s really difficult for parents to know what to do.

“The first question you need to ask yourself if your child is unwell is, would I normally keep them off school with this illness?

“If the answer is yes, then you keep your child off school. You then need to ask yourself, does my child have a temperature of over 37.8 or above?

“Do they have a continuous new cough? Or have they got any change or loss in their sense of taste or smell?

“If they’ve answered yes to any one of those three questions, then your child needs to stay off school, you need to isolate the household and you need to arrange for your child to be tested.

“And they cannot go back to school until they’ve had a negative test or until you’ve followed the appropriate guidance on household isolation.”

Follow these three steps

Dr Flett said national coronavirus guidance feels “very confusing” to many people.

She urged the public to stick to these basic preventative measures to help control the spread of the virus in the community:

  • Keep reminding your family to socially distance. 2 metres is better than one. 2 metres is roughly an outstretched arm holding a broom handle length – further than you think
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, when you come back home and before meals. Use hand sanitiser when you are out.
  • Wear a face covering when you are out and about to reduce spread of the virus. A Covid cough is a lot worse than the discomfort of a face mask for the very vast majority of people.

St Helens Star:

Dr Flett added: “I think it is important for us to remember that education is really, really important to all of our children.

“Not only from an academic point of view, but also from also for their mental health and wellbeing.

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“So I think we do need to be trying to keep our kids in school as much as we can.”

Parents are reminded that GP practices – as well as the Urgent Treatment Centre and A&E – cannot provide tests or access to tests.

Coronavirus tests can be booked online here.