When the coronavirus pandemic hit the world, the only point of solace was how children were in the least affected group and only suffered mild symptoms. But now, doctors across the world are finding a rare inflammatory condition in children and they are afraid that it is somehow linked to the new coronavirus.

Britain’s Paediatric Intensive Care Society has issued an alert to doctors across countries in Europe, warning them that there has been a sudden spike in the number of children with “a multi-system inflammatory state requiring intensive care” across the country in the last three weeks. They have the “growing concern” that the disease could be a COVID-19 related syndrome or may be the symptom of an unidentified disease among children.

“We already know that a very small number of children can become severely ill with COVID-19 but this is very rare,” said Russell Viner, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. “New diseases may present in ways that surprise us and clinicians need to be made aware of any emerging evidence of particular symptoms.”

The cases till now have symptoms of toxic shock syndrome or Kawasaki disease, a rare blood vessel disorder. But they can’t be sure to call it an effect of coronavirus as of children who came in with the above-mentioned symptoms only a few tested positive for COVID-19. This discrepancy may mean that there is another, undetected disease involved. 

Thus, the fact that already 10-20 such cases in Britain and NHS England have been uncovered demands an urgent investigation of the situation. Spain’s Association of Pediatrics has also shared a similar warning that of late, a number of school-age children are suffering from “an unusual picture of abdominal pain, accompanied by gastrointestinal symptoms.”

“It is a priority to recognize these (symptoms) to urgently refer these patients to a hospital,” the pediatric association said.

But despite the growing concern, there has been no hard evidence that COVID-19 is the reason behind the rare syndrome

“Regardless of the source, multi-system inflammatory diseases are exceptionally serious for children and already stretched intensive care teams, so keeping an extra eye out for new symptoms arising in the patients we see is always a good thing,”  said Dr. James Gill, an honorary clinical lecturer at Warwick Medical School. 

Children eat breakfast Children eat breakfast at a nursery school in Eichenau near Munich June 18, 2012. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle