GPs have received a ‘significant alert’ amid concerns that the coronavirus (Covid-19) may cause a ‘multisystem inflammatory state’ in children.
The alert from NHS North Central London CCG said common symptoms included abdominal pain, gastrointestinal symptoms and cardiac inflammation.
It urged GPs to ‘refer children presenting with these symptoms as a matter of urgency’, amid a rise in children of all ages requiring intensive care.
The alert has since been shared by the UK’s Paediatric Intensive Care Society and the British Paediatric Allergy Immunity & Infection Group.
And, at a press briefing on Monday evening, NHS England medical director Stephen Powis said he had asked the national clinical director for children and young people to look into the reports as ‘a matter of urgency’.
The message, from NHS North Central London CCG’s Incident Coordination Centre, said: ‘It has been reported that over the last three weeks there has been an apparent rise in the number of children of all ages presenting with a multisystem inflammatory state requiring intensive care across London and also in other regions of the UK.
‘The cases have in common overlapping features of toxic shock syndrome and atypical Kawasaki Disease with blood parameters consistent with severe Covid-19 in children.’
According to the alert, the condition has been observed in children with both confirmed and unconfirmed coronavirus infection, leading to ‘growing concerns’ that it is related to Covid-19 or another as yet unidentified illness.
It said: ‘Abdominal pain and gastrointestinal symptoms have been a common feature as has cardiac inflammation. This has been observed in children with confirmed PCR positive SARS-CoV-2 infection as well as children who are PCR negative. Serological evidence of possible preceding SARS-CoV-2 infection has also been observed.’
‘There is a growing concern that a SARS-CoV-2-related inflammatory syndrome is emerging in children in the UK, or that there may be another, as yet unidentified, infectious pathogen associated with these cases.’
Up to now, children were not believed to be severely affected by Covid-19, however Public Health England (PHE) is monitoring its effect via a paediatric surveillance programme.
A PHE update said: ‘PHE, along with NHS partners and academic collaborators, has implemented a number of ongoing surveillance programmes to monitor the course, progression and outcomes of Covid-19 in children.
‘PHE has legal permission, provided by Regulation 3 of The Health Service (Control of Patient Information) Regulations 2002, to process patient confidential information for national surveillance of communicable diseases. As such, individual patient consent is not required.’