Coronavirus: UK doctors warned about new 'toxic shock syndrome' in children possibly linked to COVID-19

UK doctors are being warned about a possible COVID-19 related symptom emerging in children.

More than a dozen children have been admitted into intensive care after falling ill with a new type of "toxic shock syndrome".

The condition appears to be related to COVID-19 although cases have also been reported in children who have tested negative for the virus.

According to the BBC, GPs throughout the UK were alerted by the National Health Service (NHS) after children had been presenting to intensive care units in London and other parts of Britain with "unusual symptoms".

Symptoms included blood test results that were out of the ordinary, heart inflammation, diarrhoea and vomiting, and stomach pain, the state broadcaster said.

UK Health Minister Matt Hancock said he was "very worried" about reports of children struggling with the severe symptoms.

However, it was too soon to say there was a link between the symptoms and COVID-19, England national medical director Stephen Powis said.

"We have become aware in the last few days of reports of severe illness in children which might be a Kawasaki-like disease," he said, adding the disease was very rare.

"I've asked the national clinic director for children and young people to look into this as a matter of urgency - we're not sure at the moment. 

"It's really too early to say whether there is a link."

Cambridge paediatric intensive care consultant Dr Nazima Pathan told the BBC similar cases of the illness had been reported in Italy and Spain.

"Overall, children seem to be more resilient to serious lung infection following exposure to coronavirus, and the numbers admitted to intensive care units are relatively low."

The NHS says on its website that children seem to get COVID-19 less often and it's usually less serious.

In New Zealand, University of Otago Professor Philip Hill and Associate Professor Tony Walls said on Sunday the evolving consensus is that while children can be infected with COVID-19 they seldom become sick enough to need to go to hospital.

"This is very different from infections like influenza where the opposite is true. Children are the main spreaders of influenza in communities and the most likely of anyone, other than the elderly, to be sick enough to be hospitalised," they wrote in a joint opinion piece.

"The best protection for everyone in a school is to keep children and adults away from school if they are unwell, and to encourage eveyone to wash their hands regularly during the day."

New Zealand's Ministry of Health says anyone who thinks a family member may be infected with the virus should call Healthline on 0800 358 5453.

Meanwhile, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson returned to work on Monday (local time) after recovering from COVID-19 with a warning that it was still too dangerous to relax a stringent lockdown hammering its economy for fear of a deadly second outbreak.

Boris Johnson.
Boris Johnson. Photo credit: Twitter

Latest data on Sunday showed UK deaths related to COVID-19 in hospitals were up by 413 in the previous 24 hours, the lowest daily rise this month.

Based on those statistics, the UK has the fifth worst death toll in the world, after the US, Italy, Spain and France.

Reuters / Newshub.