New York: In a worrying development, a five-year old boy has died in New York from a rare inflammatory illness linked to the coronavirus, while the death of another seven-year-old boy is being investigated for possible links to the mysterious pediatric syndrome.
The New York State Department of Health is investigating several cases of the severe illness in children and child deaths that may be linked to the serious inflammatory disease called "Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome Associated with Covid-19."
There have been 73 reported cases in New York where children are experiencing symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease and toxic shock-like syndrome possibly due to Covid-19.
On Thursday, a 5-year-old boy died in the New York City from these Covid-related complications, Cuomo said.
Officials in Westchester County in upstate New York say that a 7-year-old boy died late last week at Maria Fareri Children's Hospital in Valhalla.
Michael Gewitz, Physician-in-Chief of Maria Fareri Children's Hospital, where the boy passed away, said the child suffered "serious neurological complications" from the pediatric multi-symptom inflammatory syndrome.
Authorities are investigating the death of the boy to see if it is linked to the syndrome.
So, this is every parent's nightmare, right? That your child may actually be affected by this virus. But it's something we have to consider seriously now, Cuomo said.
The Governor said that there is still a lot that is not known about Covid-19, "and in the beginning we were led to believe that the good news about this virus was it didn't affect children."
"Now we have a new issue that we're looking at where some children affected with the Covid-19 virus are becoming ill with symptoms similar to the Kawasaki disease or toxic shock-like syndrome. This would be really painful news and would open up an entirely different chapter in our fight against this virus," he said.
The State Department of Health has issued an advisory about the serious inflammatory disease.
"Parents have been advised to seek immediate care if a child has prolonged fever (more than five days), difficulty feeding (in infants) or is too sick to drink fluids, severe abdominal pain, diarrhea or vomiting, change in skin color, trouble breathing, lethargy, irritability or confusion."
Gewitz added that while a large number of children could get infected with Covid-19, most of whom, at least many, are totally asymptomatic.
"This particular complication is relatively infrequent, unusual," he said, referring to the rare pediatric syndrome.
New York State Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said that with each passing day "we're learning more about this terrible virus, and this potentially new development requires even greater understanding. We'll devote the resources of the department to research each potential case and share our findings with healthcare providers around the state and country."
Dr Dial Hewlett of the Westchester County Department of Health told reporters that in cases where the children are being reported to have the syndrome, someone in the household had previously tested positive for the coronavirus.
"And we know that in some of the households, parents or grandparents or others were diagnosed with Covid and were actually on the record being positive, and aparrently the children did not develop symptoms until two to four days before presenting to the hospital for treatment," he said.
Westchester County Executive George Latimer added that "this is very serious. The disease can be fatal, and we want to make sure everyone in Westchester County is aware to be on the lookout for symptoms that may lead to this."
Though most children who get Covid-19 experience only mild symptoms, in the UK, a possible link has also been reported between pediatric Covid-19 and serious inflammatory disease. The inflammatory syndrome has features which overlap with Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome and may occur days to weeks after acute Covid-19 illness. It can include persistent fever, abdominal symptoms, rash, and even cardiovascular symptoms requiring intensive care.
Authorities said early recognition by pediatricians and referral to a specialist including to critical care is essential.
Earlier this week, the New York City Health Department said that 15 children aged 2-15 years had been hospitalized from April 17- May 1 with Kawasaki disease or features of toxic shock. Of the 15 children, four had tested positive for Covid-19. More than half of the reported patients required blood pressure support and five required mechanical ventilation.
The syndrome has received growing attention in recent weeks as cases began appearing in European countries hit hard by the coronavirus.
"There are some recent rare descriptions of children in some European countries that have had this inflammatory syndrome, which is similar to the Kawasaki syndrome, but it seems to be very rare," Maria Van Kerkhove, a World Health Organization scientist, said at a news briefing last week.