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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.

Here are some ideas to help children adjust to school closure

coronavirus infographic

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.

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 play their part with a #FamilyRescuePackage - a set of practical measures to help ensure stability of income of families and children through this crisis. 

Read more about our UK response 

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

In Hong Kong, we have distributed 20,000 masks and 5,000 personal-sized bottles of hand sanitiser to children and families. We have also provided 50,000 child-sized masks to vulnerable children.

In Italy, many of our programmes have been suspended but we continue to do all we can to help children. We're distributing tablets, books and educational games to help children from low-income families to support their learning at home, as well as supporting online learning and helping with preparations for when children eventally go back to school.

In Spain, we're making cash donations for food to families who are struggling financially. We're also helping children and families to continue their education during lockdown, and offering therapy to support their emotional and mental well-being. 

In Mexico, our teams have handed out hygiene kits and materials for families in refugee camps - providing them with soap, hand sanitisers and essential information on how to stay healthy and protect themselves. 

In the Philippines,  we are giving families in the poorest communities a month’s supply of hygiene essentials, including soap and sanitiser. We also shared child-friendly illustrated explainers about the coronavirus and materials on proper handwashing, to help families get through this.

Presently, our global health teams are participating in daily World Health Organisation (WHO) calls, building response scenarios and undertaking preparedness activities across many of our country offices, especially those with weakened health systems.

In support of the global humanitarian community, Save the Children is also leading a global consortium aimed at strengthening capacity for responses to major infectious disease outbreaks or pandemics, which is called READY. READY is engaged in building potential response scenarios to the emerging coronavirus, and other major epidemics/pandemic-prone pathogens.

We have extensive experience of preparing for pandemics and responding to outbreaks. We’ve played a key role in responding to major epidemics, including Yellow Fever, cholera, measles and Ebola. We are determined to help curb the outbreak of COVID-19 and are ready to act whenever necessary.

See how we're helping children to keep learning in Ethiopia

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 to ensure that all our programmes, particularly in those countries most at risk from the outbreak, are ready to respond. This includes making sure our health clinics have enough soap and hygiene supplies to prevent the spread of infection.

Our teams are also focused on making sure we provide the right health messages to the community to help them protect themselves from the virus and know when to seek help.

This virus often appears with pneumonia-like symptoms including fever, fatigue, chills, congestion, body-aches, difficulty breathing and a cough. More rarely the disease can be fatal.


The outbreak began in Wuhan, China- a city of 11 million people-in December, 2019. Cases have also been reported in many provinces of China, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and now the UK.

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. 

Treatments are under investigation and wil be tested through clinical trials. 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 Doctors are not directly working with patients directly, but they are making sure that clinics, child friendly spaces, schools and other programmes are safe for children and staff. This includes making sure our clinics have enough soap and hygiene supplies to reduce the spread of infection and making sure we provide the right health messages to the community to help themselves from the virus and know when to seek help.

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.


tips to prevent infection from coronavirus

How we're helping children to keep learning in Ethiopia

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"


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