Skip To Content

Coronavirus Outbreak

Stay up to date with the latest facts and figures on coronavirus in the UK, and check out our FAQs around the outbreak. Learn how in both the UK and overseas, we’re doing all we can to fight coronavirus, working with governments and partners.

Coronavirus Crisis

The Coronavirus (Covid19) crisis is affecting children and families around the world. Please help support them through this difficult time.

COVID-19 is a global Pandemic, that threatens children’s rights around the world, exposing them to potential risks and disrupting their lives. While current trends indicate that children are not at higher risk for COVID-19, we know that infectious disease outbreaks can seriously impact children’s wellbeing – both psychological and physical. Children may be separated from their parents during quarantine or admission to hospital, which can make them very vulnerable. They might also have reduced access to essential health services, and school closures will interrupt their learning and leave them isolated. 

Right now we are working with the World Health Organisation and other partners on preparedness activities across many of our country offices. Our teams are also doing everything they can to keep children and our staff safe and healthy in our programmes. Wherever we work – in schools, refugee camps, or health clinics – our priority is to ensure the safety of children, and we’ll modify our programmes to meet the changing nature of the outbreak.

As of the end of September 2020, we have reached 16.4m people, of which 7.7m are children. Support includes clean water access, acute malnutrition treatment, health worker support/training, curriculum support, distance learning support, cash and/or voucher transfers, child protection services (scroll down to FAQs section for full statistics).

This page was last updated on 15th January 2021.

Here are some ideas to help children adjust to school closure

Coronavirus infographic containing the text: coronaviruses are a group of viruses that can cause illnesses ranging from a cold to Sever Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

How to speak to your children about Coronavirus

"We want to make sure we can keep our essential programmes going – whether that means strengthening infection prevention control in a child-friendly space, making sure health facilities have the right supplies they need in case a coronavirus patient comes in, or making sure that we think about innovative ways to deliver education in emergencies if people are quarantined."  - Dr Louisa Baxter, Senior Humanitarian Health Lead, Save the Children



Keep up to date with the world health organisation


Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that can cause illness as minor as a cold, but in some cases the virus can be fatal. This outbreak is caused by a new strain of coronavirus, now called COVID-19, which has not previously been seen in humans before the outbreak reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019.    

 ‘CO’ stands for corona, ‘VI’ for virus, and ‘D’ for disease.

As of 5th January, there have been 84m confirmed COVID-19 cases and 1.8m deaths across the world.

We are doing everything we can to keep children, families and our staff protected and healthy.

In the UK, we're supporting families with our new emergency grants programme
- providing household items and help with bills to families in crisis.

Every family we support will also receive a pack of resources, designed by our early learning specialists, including advice on how to support routines, make time for play and learning, and how to reassure little ones about the virus in age-appropriate language. Some of this advice can be found on our Den.

We're also calling on the government to bring in a Winter Plan for Children to help families get through the cold season.

Read more about our UK response 

Globally, we have over 100 years' experience responding to outbreaks and pandemics.

In May 2020, Save the Children released a global movement-wide COVID-19 response plan. This plan aimed to reach over 69 million people in 87 countries.

As of the end of September, we have reached 16.4m people, of which 7.7m are children.

  • 762,300 households have been supported to receive access to clean water and facilities for handwashing
  • 257,500 children have received treatment for acute malnutrition
  • 95,000 community health workers have been supported or trained
  • 53 countries supporting Ministries of Education to adapt curriculums to the COVID-19 context
  • 2.9 million children were supported with distance learning due to school closures
  • 90,000 children with disabilities supported to access distance learning
  • 389,000 households supported globally to receive cash and/or voucher transfers
  • Child protection services:
    - 72,000 children received case management support
    - 190,000 children received Mental Health and Psychosocial (MHPSS) support
    - 287,000 adults received MHPSS support
Updated 24th November 2020

Children in affected communities will be impacted. They may be separated from their caregivers during quarantine or during admission to hospital which can make them very vulnerable. They might also have reduced access to essential health services, and school closures will interrupt their learning and leave them isolated.

Children’s mental health and wellbeing is at real risk. Losing the stability of their routines, and cut off from friends, teachers and family, millions of children are vulnerable to anxiety, fear and loneliness. For the most affected and those who have lost their caregivers, the trauma and impact on wellbeing can last a lifetime.

We advocate that children's best interests are at the centre of every response.

Save the Children is working in 87 countries around the world to help prevent, mitigate, and respond to the devastating impact of the coronavirus crisis. 

We’re providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to health workers, making sure children and families have clean water to wash their hands, raising awareness so communities can protect themselves, providing cash grants so families can buy food and other essentials, helping children learn at home, and more. 

We’ve adapted and expanded how we deliver our programmes, so children can continue to survive, learn, and stay safe.

This virus often appears with pneumonia-like symptoms including fever, fatigue, chills, congestion, body-aches, difficulty breathing and a cough.

The outbreak began in Wuhan, China- a city of 11 million people-in December, 2019. 

Although this coronavirus originally spread from animals to humans, it’s been confirmed that this strain of the virus can now spread between humans.

Similar to the common cold, the coronavirus is spread via droplets when a person coughs or sneezes.

The virus may also be spread by contact with surfaces that have been contaminated.

Steps are being taken to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. 

Most importantly, the NHS emphasizes that the best way to avoid spread of the novel Coronavirus is to keep good hand hygiene and good cough etiquette. 

There are three COVID-19 vaccines for which certain national regulatory authorities have authorized the use. The WHO is helping to coordinate efforts to develop medicines and Vaccines to treat the virus with a range of partners, however there are many basic public health interventions available which can reduce the risk of infections now. 

To protect yourself from getting infected with COVID-19, you should maintain basic hand and respiratory hygiene and avoiding close contact with anyone showing symtoms such as coughing and sneezing if possible. 

All those infected should receive appropriate care to relieve and treat symptoms, such as cold and flu medicine. Patients with more severe illness may require more specialised care such as antibiotics and oxygen treatment.

As with all viruses, practicing good hygiene is the best way to prevent illness: wash your hands often, with soap and for at least 20 seconds. Avoid close contact, when possible, with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

To protect others, cough and sneeze in your elbow; stay home when you’re not feeling well to help your body recover and avoid spreading germs to others.

See how we're helping communites stop the spread of coronavirus.

Save the Children is an experienced community health provider, which is the first line of defence against coronavirus for many countries. We’re providing training and protective equipment for health workers so they can detect, prevent, and manage suspected cases of coronavirus.

In May 2020, our Emergency Health Unit sent a team of highly experienced medical professionals to help set-up and run a coronavirus isolation and treatment centre in the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh. The isolation and treatment centre provides 24-hour care for suspected or confirmed coronavirus patients from the Rohingya and host community.

We’re also making sure we can continue to provide routine, life-saving healthcare services, such as child immunisations, prevention and management of childhood disease, sexual and reproductive health services, and infant and young child feeding services.

Visit the NHS website for more information


7 Simple Tips on How to Talk to Kids about the Coronavirus


1. Be calm, honest, and informed.

2. Tailor your approach based on your child—think about whether more information makes them more or less anxious.

3. Share facts simply and calmly—kids take their cue from you.

4. Ask your child what they know, answer their questions and address any misinformation.

5. Validate their feelings, while reassuring them- “I understand this can be scary. The risk is still low, and we’re well prepared."

6. Remind them of what’s in their power—washing hands thoroughly and often, coughing and sneezing into their elbow, getting plenty of sleep, etc.

7. Model good hygiene, and try to make it fun! Think of or create a favorite song to sing while scrubbing hands for at least 20 seconds.


Graphic showing when to wash hands, with the text: 'Protect yourself, wash your hands: before feeding or breastfeeding your child; after touching animals or animal waste; before, during and after cooking or handling food; after contact with patient; before eating; after using the toilet

How we're helping children to keep learning in Ethiopia

12-year-old Nassir, from Ethopia, reads a book

Nassir, 12, is a 4th grade student in the Somali region in Ethiopia. He is out of school but thanks to Save the Children's mobile library, he is able to continue his reading and learning at home.

"Schools are closed but the mobile reading camp still comes to our village once a week. The librarian lends us storybooks that we can take home to read. I borrow different storybooks from the reading camp. I find it fun reading stories to my family at home. It also helps me improve my reading skills"


Back to the FAQ's

More ways to get involved