London: An alert has been sent out to doctors across Britain over a growing number of children testing positive for coronavirus. The nationwide medical alert speaks of "a growing concern" that a coronavirus-related infection is emerging in children in Britain.
The Paediatric Intensive Care Society in England said in a statement that over the past three weeks “there has been apparent rise in the number of children of all ages presenting with a multi-system inflammatory state requiring intensive care across London and also in other regions of the UK.”
The society expressed concern over “a SARS-CoV-2 related inflammatory syndrome emerging in children in the UK” and warned that “there may be another as yet unidentified infectious pathogen associated with these cases.”
These children have tested positive for coronavirus, but they have presented different symptoms, and doctors believe this may not be exactly the same virus as seen adults even if tests on several of the children have shown them to be coronavirus positive the same way.
“Their blood samples show results similar to those with serious Covid illness,” Dr Ramesh Mehta, president of the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) tells CNN News18. “Whether this is Covid or not as seen in adults, we are not sure.”
Only about 25 to 30 cases have been seen so far, mostly in London, a senior consultant with the National Health Service tells CNN News18. But small as these numbers relatively are, they have seen a sharp rise in recent days.
And not just in Britain. “My colleagues in Bengaluru, Kolkata and Mumbai say that they have seen similar problems in children in India as well,” says Dr Mehta.
The symptoms these children show are different to those of adults carrying the virus. “The children become suddenly seriously ill, they start with tummy ache, pain in abdomen, and sometimes it seems like it is an acute appendicitis sort of symptom,” says Dr Mehta. “But on further testing most of these children also have inflammation of the heart and this very quickly progresses to inflammation all over the body.”
“The symptoms are different but test results are similar,” says Dr Mehta. “That is worrying.” Doctors are concerned that despite differences from adults, blood samples from many of these children indicates Covid, and “this is happening in the middle of a Covid pandemic, so there is that relationship.”
It is a “mysterious sort of illness” in children, Dr Mehta says. “But it is serious, and equally dangerous.” But given the small numbers so far, “I don’t think there is a panic situation for children in general.” Medical authorities have reassured parents that such cases are “very rare.”
Investigations are under way to show just what this disease is. Medical director of the National Health Service (NHS) in England Stephen Powis said earlier this week that “we have asked our experts to look into this as a matter of urgency." He said “it’s only in the last few days that we have seen those reports.”