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Doctors have been warned of a “serious coronavirus-related condition” affecting children in the UK.
An alert released by the Paediatric Intensive Care Society (Pics), a forum for those involved in looking after critically ill children, claims there has been a rise in cases of youngsters with issues “consistent with severe Covid-19” in London and other parts of the UK.
It describes children presenting in hospital with a “multi-system inflammatory state requiring intensive care”, with abdominal pain and gastrointestinal issues a common feature in those who are ill.
According to the alert, children display signs similar to toxic shock syndrome (TSS) and Kawasaki disease – rare but severe illnesses associated with infections.
They may also have symptoms of inflammation around the heart.
One doctor on a paediatric ward, who asked not to be named, told HuffPost UK: “In paediatrics, information sharing between hospitals across the country is generally very good.
“Up until the last week or so, paediatric wards have been very calm, with fewer patients than we would normally expect.
“But recently we have seen more children, up to around the age of 12, coming in with persistent fever and a range of other symptoms.
“Until recently I would have said it was correct that this disease was not affecting children as seriously, but I think now we need to rip up the rulebook. The situation, and what we know, is changing on a very fluid basis.”
HuffPost UK understands an alert has been sent by NHS England to primary care trusts across the country, as well as that circulated by PICS.
One alert circulated among north London primary care groups warns of an “apparent rise” in cases during the last three weeks, and says children with symptoms should be referred for urgent hospital treatment.
According to the NHS website, children “can get coronavirus (Covid-19), but they seem to get it less often than adults and it’s usually less serious”.
The symptoms parents are told to look out for are the same as those in adults – a high fever and persistent, continuous cough.
Professor Simon Kenny, NHS national clinical director for children and young people, said: “Thankfully Kawasaki-like diseases are very rare, as currently are serious complications in children related to Covid-19, but it is important that clinicians are made aware of any potential emerging links so that they are able to give children and young people the right care fast.
“The advice to parents remains the same: if you are worried about your child for whatever reason, contact NHS 111 or your family doctor for urgent advice, or 999 in an emergency, and if a professional tells you to go to hospital, please go to hospital.”