Children suffering from a runny nose 'absolutely' do not have coronavirus, a top expert has warned.
Professor Tim Spector, from King's College London, told parents that the symptom, alongside congestion and sneezing, is a 'sure sign' they have a cold and not the virus.
'If you look at the risks of it being positive, we have 6,500 new cases a day which, on a countrywide basis, is still very small,' he told Radio 4's Today programme. 'So most people's chances are that they don't have Covid.'
Prof Spector works on the Coronavirus Symptom Study app which asks its 4million users to report when they are suffering symptoms and whether they then tested positive for Covid-19.
The team spearheaded efforts to get loss of taste and smell registered as a symptom of the virus in the UK, after reports to the app revealed it was a sign of the virus. But their pool of data means they can also identify what symptoms mean someone does not have coronavirus.
Matt Hancock has also warned parents not to get a Covid-19 test for children suffering from a case of the sniffles, which indicates a common cold and a 'normal' illness.
Children suffering from a runny nose 'absolutely' do not have coronavirus - but may instead be suffering from the common cold, a top expert has warned (stock)
Professor Tim Spector, from King's College London, said his research including data from 4million people had revealed a runny nose was a 'sure' sign someone didn't have Covid-19
Prof Spector said there is a difference in the symptoms suffered between age groups - and that the standard high temperature, continuous cough and loss of taste and smell may not appear for those aged below 18 and above 65.
'You don't see (loss of taste and smell) in older people and in kids at all,' he said.
'They don't seem to lose that sense of smell and they don't seem to get the cough and shortness of breath as much either so it's a different picture at different age groups, presumably because the immune systems are behaving differently.'
He said the standard symptoms of a high temperature, continuous cough and loss of sense of taste and smell are accurate for those aged 18 to 65, but they may vary for people who are older or younger.
'By all means keep your kids at home (if they have symptoms) but don't rush around the country trying to get a test for something that's highly likely to be a cold and not Covid,' he said.
Matt Hancock has warned parents that a runny nose indicates a common cold, and not coronavirus.
He told The Times: 'When schools go back, children often do get a cold - a normal illness if you like.
'Obviously, that is contributing to the increase in demand, as well as people who are not eligible coming forward.'
Education leaders have warned that secondary schools could be forced to go part-time if the testing crisis continues.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) said that teachers may be forced to put in a rota system, where only some year groups are coming in, if cases