Coronavirus Update: Mysterious Inflammatory Disease Affecting Children Linked To COVID-19, WHO Warns


An inflammatory disease is recently observed to be affecting children is likely to have a connection with the coronavirus, the World Health Organization issued a warning on Friday.

WHO asked doctors and world leaders to be alert in handling such cases where the inflammatory disease resembles the Kawasaki disease in a couple of nations like the United States and Italy. The agency already indicated in its initial reports that the syndrome can lead to high fever and swelling in blood vessels, which might be linked to coronavirus.

“We need more information collected in a systematic way because with the initial reports, we’re getting a description of what this looks like, which is not always the same,” WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit’s head Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove said during a news conference held at the WHO headquarters in Geneva. “And in some children, they tested positive for COVID-19 and other children have not. So we do not know if this is associated with COVID-19.”

Until now, COVID-19 has been found sparing small children and teens to a great extent. However, the new pediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome, or PIMS, seems to suggest that age is no bar for the virus or infection to affect. In Europe, about 230 suspected cases of PIMS have been reported where children up to the age of 14 were found infected, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, or ECDC, confirmed on Friday.

“The presenting signs and symptoms are a mix of the ones for Kawasaki disease (KD) and toxic shock syndrome (TSS) and are characterized, among others, by fever, abdominal pain, and cardiac involvement,” ECDC stated. “A possible temporal association with SARS-CoV-2 infection has been hypothesized because some of the children that were tested for SARS-CoV-2 infection were either positive by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or serology.”

Kerkhove issued the warning among the WHO’s global clinical network, comprising a group of clinicians across the globe handling COVID-19 cases. The warning came following more than 100 cases that have been detected in New York, after which the health authorities found it vital to issue a warning against this mysterious illness without further delay.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also seconded the indications and said that there is a need to collaborate together and “better understand this syndrome in children.”

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