Representative photo (Reuters)
NEW YORK: A child died in a Manhattan hospital on Thursday from what appeared to be a rare syndrome linked to the coronavirus that causes life-threatening inflammation in critical organs and blood vessels of children, the hospital said.
If confirmed, it would be the first known death in New York related to the mysterious new syndrome, which officials said began to appear in recent weeks.
The Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital, where the child was being treated, did not release any further information about the victim.
“While it is concerning that children are affected, we must emphasize that based on what we know thus far, it appears to be a very rare condition,” said Lucia Lee, a spokeswoman for the Mount Sinai Health System.
On Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that a 5-year-old had died, possibly from the syndrome, and that the death was under investigation. It appeared the 5-year-old was the same child who had died in the Mt. Sinai hospital.
The governor also said there had been 73 reported cases of children in New York area who had been afflicted with the illness, which doctors have labeled “pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome.” He said the state’s Department of Health was investigating other deaths as possible cases.
“This would be really painful news and would open up an entirely different chapter,” Cuomo said, “because I can’t tell you how many people I spoke to who took peace and solace in the fact that children were not getting infected.”
In an advisory to health care providers, state health officials said that most of the children who were thought to have the syndrome had also tested positive for the coronavirus or for antibodies to it.
On Monday night, the New York City Department of Health issued a bulletin, asking doctors to report any cases of the syndrome. The bulletin said health authorities in the city knew of 15 such cases, involving patients ages 2 to 15, who had been in intensive care units since April 17.
The symptoms, which have been seen in a growing number of children, appear to target the heart and coronary arteries of children infected with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Doctors say the illness can send children into a kind of toxic shock, as blood pressure plummets and the heart fails to send enough blood to vital organs.
The symptoms bear some resemblance to Kawasaki syndrome, a separate disease that can cause sudden inflammation of the heart and cause coronary blockages in children.
Doctors say the inflammatory condition does not seem to be driven by COVID-19’s attack of the lungs, a hallmark of the coronavirus infection in adults. Instead, in children who present with the inflammatory syndrome, the virus appears to be attacking the heart.
On Friday, Gov. Philip Murphy announced the first death of a child in New Jersey from COVID-19. The child, who was 4 years old, had underlying health conditions, officials said. It is unclear if the child had the inflammatory syndrome.
The number of children in the United States showing signs of this new syndrome, which was first detected in Europe last month, is still small, although no solid data yet exists on the exact number of cases.
One other death related to the syndrome has been reported, that of a 14-year-old boy in England, according to a study published in the journal Lancet on Wednesday.