Public Health England urge Suffolk parents to only book coronavirus tests for children displaying specific symptoms
Letters have been sent to thousands of parents across Suffolk urging them to only book a coronavirus test for their child or children if they display very specific symptoms.
The appeal has been sent by deputy director of Public Health England Dr Susan Hopkins - who is also the interim chief medical officer of NHS Test & Trace - and Professor Viv Bennett, chief nurse and director of maternity and early years.
The pair write: "Every time a test is used inappropriately, a person with COVID-19 symptoms may miss out on getting tested".
Since schools reopened at the beginning of September the demand for coronavirus tests has almost trebled amongst young children.
With pupils catching the common coughs, colds and sore throats that come with a return to the classroom, parents have sought swab tests to ensure their offspring can remain in school and aren't carrying the virus which requires them, and their class or year group bubble, to isolate for two weeks at home.
In the first two weeks of September, more than 200,000 under-nines were tested in England, according to the government's test-and-trace programme. This is nearly three times as many as in the previous fortnight.
The two-page document, which has been emailed to parents and guardians via schools and nurseries, sets out the 'principles' parents should now follow when their child is ill.
A test should only be booked, says the letter, if a child displays a high temperature, continuous cough or a loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste.
"Your child does not need a test if they have a runny nose, are sneezing or feeling unwell but do not have a temperature, cough or loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste because these are not normally symptoms of coronavirus" the letter goes on to say.
The document also includes links to the NHS website and advice which the organisation has put together which specifically relates to when children can and cannot attend school whilst feeling under the weather.
The letter finishes by saying: "It is vital for children and young people’s learning and future opportunities that they are able to return to school and college. It is therefore vitally important that all we work together and do our bit to make this possible."
You can read a full copy of the letter by clicking here.