Illness and infection control

Chicken pox, colds, tummy bugs and head lice are all common features of childhood.

As a childcare practitioner, the chances are you'll see all these and many more during your career. And as a professional childcarer, you must make sure that you take the appropriate actions when a child in your setting is unwell.

As well as understanding how to deal with individual cases of illness, it's important to know how to recognise an outbreak of infectious disease in your setting. An outbreak is defined as being when there are two or more linked cases with similar symptoms (or of a notifiable disease) than would normally be expected. 

Free resources for PACEY members

Some illnesses are notifiable to your registering body and local health team. Find out more about the requirements on you if there is an outbreak in your setting. ​

  • Factsheet on Infection prevention and control - Some illnesses are notifiable to your registering body and local health team. Find out more about the requirements on you if there is an outbreak in your setting. 
  • Sample policies and procedures (England) and policy guidance (Wales) - Having clear policies and procedures about what you will do when a child is ill in your setting is essential. It helps you communicate clearly with parents about their responsibilities to keep their child at home when they are poorly, and for how long they need to be excluded from the setting for. 
  • CEY smart course: Promoting and supporting handwashing in your setting - Explore the guidance around handwashing; how you can help young children to understand why they should wash their hands; and how you can support them to do so effectively, independently and confidently. Find the course in the Fit and healthy theme. 

Reporting notifiable diseases 

Childcare settings should telephone their local health protection team (HPT) as soon as possible to report any serious or unusual illness. In particular:

  • Escherichia coli (VTEC) (also called E.coli 0157) or E coli VTEC infection
  • food poisoning
  • hepatitis
  • measles, mumps, rubella (rubella is also called German measles)
  • meningitis
  • scarlet fever
  • tuberculosis
  • typhoid
  • whooping cough (also called pertussis)
  • COVID-19

Here is a full list of notifiable diseases.

Click here to find your local Health Protection Team in England

Click here to find out how to contact AWARe/Health Protection Team in Wales. In Wales you should also report any serious or unusual illness to CIW through the appropriate notification process.



In April 2022, the Prime Minister announced his plan for ‘living with coronavirus’ with removal of the restrictions and guidance in England that were previously in place. This marks a shift from Government restrictions towards ‘exercising personal judgement’ when it comes to managing COVID-19 risks.

The DfE’s specific guidance on managing COVID-19 in early years and childcare settings has now been withdrawn. You should instead refer to the general public health guidance published by UKHSA and the advice for education and childcare settings on managing infectious diseases.  

We have outlined various links to relevant guidance below.     

General guidance for the public :

Education and childcare guidance:  


In March 2022 Welsh Government published Wales’ long-term COVID-19 transition from pandemic to endemic

The legal requirement to undertake a COVID-19 risk assessment no longer applies. Settings should manage COVID-19 in the same way as other respiratory infections and communicable diseases, taking appropriate control measures as required.

All settings should continue to be aware of the steps to take to reduce the risk of COVID-19.

The Welsh Government Guidance: Public Health Advice for businesses, employers and event organisers outlines the public health measures that continue to be important in reducing the transmission of COVID-19. Settings are encouraged to become familiar this Guidance and the corresponding checklist.

Mitigating measures that have been used throughout the pandemic continue to be key. 

Please also note that the advice for childminders who have a positive case of Covid-19 in their household. Childminders are able to offer their services where measures to reduce to the risk of transmission are put in place.

Any childminder who has a positive result should not attend the setting or provide a childminding service.

A range of infection prevention and control guides is available from AWARe/ Health Protection Team - Public Health Wales (


Resources from government agencies


Download a range of resources and information from the UK Health Security Agency that will help you cope with outbreaks of illness or infection in your setting.

Health protection in children and young people settings, including education from the UK Health Security Agency. A practical guide for staff on managing cases of infectious diseases in children and young people settings, including education. The guidance provides advice on:

  • What infections are, how they are transmitted and those at higher risk of infection
  • Preventing and controlling infections
  • Supporting immunisation programmes
  • Managing outbreaks and incidents
  • Managing specific infectious diseases: A to Z
  • Specific settings and populations: additional health protection considerations
  • Children and young people settings: tools and resources


AWARe/ Health Protection Team - Public Health Wales ( - A range of infection prevention and control guides.

Guidance for childcare, preschool and educational settings - Public Health Wales - Look here for advice and guidance on exclusion and A-Z of infections. Including an example checklist of measures to use during an outbreak and record forms for childcare settings.

Supporting products

Accident, Incident and Medication Folder

This folder contains all of the A4 forms and records you need if there is an accident or incident in your setting. This folder contains refillable loose-leaf forms and is a must for every childcare setting. 

Training courses

If you prepare food in your childcare setting it’s important to have a good hygiene qualification. Check out our Level 2 food hygiene course.