New York officials are investigating a mysterious inflammatory condition that appears to be connected to coronavirus that has killed at least three children in the state and infected dozens of others.
Mayor Bill DeBlasio on Sunday said there was “tremendous concern” that 38 New York City children had contracted the illness. Nearly half of them tested positive for Covid-19, while more than 80 per cent had antibodies, he said.
Three children in the state of New York have died from the inflammatory illness and authorities are investigating an additional two deaths.
The findings present a fresh layer of danger to the coronavirus, which was previously believed to leave young people relatively unscathed compared to the older population. Several studies have found that children experience only mild versions of the virus — if they get sick at all. A study by doctors in Shanghai found that 94 per cent of children with the virus had an asymptomatic, mild or moderate illness.
New York governor Andrew Cuomo said the state government was investigating up to 85 children who may have been afflicted by the new paediatric illness, which is characterised by inflammatory symptoms rather than the respiratory conditions that typically accompany Covid-19. These children are mostly toddlers or elementary school age, he added.
“We thought that young people were not affected by Covid-19,” Governor Cuomo said. “We are not so sure that is the fact any more.”
Children afflicted with the newly discovered illness suffer from persistent fever, a blotchy rash, abdominal pain and vomiting as their immune system goes into overdrive. Doctors say the symptoms resemble Kawasaki disease, another illness that causes inflammation of the blood vessels in children.
The confusion about how coronavirus affects children will complicate decisions about when to reopen schools, as governments begin to take steps to ease the lockdowns. Schools in New York have been closed for the rest of the academic year, but no decision has been made about whether to reopen them in September.
Mr DeBlasio said New York City hospitals will test all children with these inflammatory symptoms for antibodies to coronavirus.
“We’ve said many times [coronavirus] is so troubling and challenging because it’s so new,” said Mayor DeBlasio on Sunday. “There are still so many unanswered questions.”