REPORTS of children with coronavirus symptoms in Cheshire soared in September as youngsters returned to school.

According to figures from NHS England, people living in Cheshire East and West aged 18 and under were logged with possible Covid-19 symptoms 2,403 times last month, eight times more than in August.

​This was the second-highest monthly total recorded for children, behind only the 2,808 who reported symptoms in March when the outbreak began.

Across England, the number of children being reported with symptoms rose from just 21,000 in August to 186,000 in September.

Saul Faust, professor of paediatric immunology and infectious diseases at the University of Southampton, says this is to be expected as children and their families always have respiratory viral symptoms in the autumn and winter.

He said: "Children remain relatively unaffected by Covid – but there is no choice but to test on symptoms as otherwise cases will be missed.

"Parents are not over-anxious – they are asking for tests per national guidance.

"The problem and solution has not changed since the start of the pandemic – we need a testing system, and track and trace alongside it, that has capacity and is effective."

Official guidance from the Department of Health and Social Care says parents should only book a test if their child has a high temperature, a new continuous cough, or a loss of smell or taste.

But they do not need one if they have just a runny nose, are sneezing or are feeling unwell.

In Cheshire, the number of adult users logging symptoms also increased significantly between August and September – from 1,590 to 3,728 – but this was not as steep as the rise among children.

On Monday, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam said the infection data shows 'intense transmission' of infections for 17 to 18-year-olds, but very low rates of increase for those up to the age of 16.

An NHS spokesman said: "We encourage the public to continue to use NHS 111 as their first port of call for medical help, and stress the importance of following government guidelines on social distancing and hand hygiene to reduce the spread of the virus.”