NHS doctors have been issued an urgent alert about a sharp rise in the number of children being admitted to intensive care with a serious condition that may be linked to coronavirus.
The warning says there has been an “apparent rise in the number of children of all ages presenting with a multi-system inflammatory state requiring intensive care across London and also other regions of the UK” over the last three weeks.
The NHS England alert, shared by the Paediatric Intensive Care Society on Sunday evening, adds: “There is a growing concern that a [Covid-19] related inflammatory syndrome is emerging in children in the UK, or that there may be another, as yet unidentified, infectious pathogen associated with these cases.”
It is not known how many children have been affected, however it is thought to be a small number as the condition appears to be a rare complication.
The illness has been seen in children who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, as well as those who have not had the disease.
The condition has the characteristics of severe Covid-19, and also shares certain features of toxic shock syndrome and atypical Kawasaki Disease – which causes the blood vessels to become inflamed and swollen – according to the alert.
The children being seen with the new syndrome often suffer from stomach pain, cardiac inflammation and ‘gastrointestinal symptoms’ – which could include vomiting and diarrhoea.
Doctors have been asked to urgently refer any patients showing signs of these.
It is not clear how many children have had the inflammatory syndrome, nor whether any have died with it. It is also unclear as to how old children are who are being struck down, or if there are any clusters of cases in the UK.
But it is thought to have only affected a ‘handful’ of children so far, according to one prominent paediatrician who admitted the condition could be caused by another pathogen.
Boris Johnson announced the UK coronavirus lockdown cannot yet be eased as he returned to work on Monday after recovering from the disease for three weeks.