Some children in the UK with no underlying health conditions have died of a rare inflammatory condition similar to Kawasaki disease — that researchers say may be linked to COVID-19, the country’s health secretary said Tuesday.
Italian and British medical experts are investigating a possible link between the coronavirus outbreak and clusters of severe inflammatory disease among infants, who have arrived at the countries’ hospitals with high fevers and inflamed arteries.
Northern Italy — one of the hardest hit regions during the pandemic — has reported extremely high numbers of children under age 9 with severe cases of what appears to be Kawasaki disease, more common in parts of Asia.
In the UK specifically, some children have died who did not have any previous health complications, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on LBC Radio.
“It’s a new disease that we think may be caused by coronavirus and the COVID-19 virus, we’re not 100 percent sure because some of the people who got it hadn’t tested positive, so we’re doing a lot of research now but it is something that we’re worried about,” said Hancock, one of the minister’s leading Britain’s COVID-19 response.
Hancock did not provide an exact figure for the number of deaths.
Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, children were thought to experience relatively few severe effects or deaths, compared to their older counterparts. But this mysterious inflammatory condition, also noticed in Spain, might prompt a reassessment, according to officials.
“It is rare,” Hancock said. “Although it is very significant for those children who do get it, the number of cases is small.”
Professor Anne Marie Rafferty, the president of the Royal College of Nursing, told Sky News she was aware of the similarities between cases in infants and Kawasaki disease.
“Actually there’s far too little known about it and the numbers actually at the moment are really too small,” told Sky News. “But it is an alert, and it’s something that’s actually being explored and examined by a number of different researchers.”
But parents should keep vigilant, junior British interior minister Victoria Atkins told the outlet.
“It demonstrates just how fast moving this virus is and how unprecedented it is in its effect,” Atkins said.
With Post wires