Three children have died from a rare inflammatory syndrome that could be linked to coronavirus.
On Friday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had confirmed that a five-year-old’s death had been linked to coronavirus and a syndrome that shares symptoms with toxic shock and Kawasaki disease.
In a briefing on Saturday, the mayor said the illness had now taken the lives of at least two other young people across the state.
Mr Cuomo said he was increasingly worried that the syndrome posed a new emerging risk to children, who had previously been thought to be largely immune to severe illness from COVID-19.
Health officials are reviewing 73 cases where children exposed to COVID-19 also exhibited symptoms of the syndrome, which include inflammation of the blood vessels that can trigger heart problems.
Mr Cuomo said the children tested positive for COVID-19 or the antibodies against it, “but those were not the symptoms they showed when they came into the hospital system”.
The governor called it a “truly disturbing” development after it was widely believed that young people were at less risk from coronavirus.
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He said: “We are not so sure that is the fact anymore. It’s very possible that this has been going on for several weeks and it hasn’t been diagnosed as related to COVID.”
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Mr Cuomo said New York’s health department had teamed up with the New York Genome Center and the Rockefeller University to look at whether there is a genetic basis for the syndrome which has also been reported in Britain, Italy and Spain.
The syndrome has the same symptoms as toxic shock and Kawasaki disease, which is associated with fever, skin rashes, swelling of the glands, and in severe cases, inflammation of arteries of the heart.
Scientists are still trying to determine whether the syndrome has a definite link to coronavirus because not all children with it have tested positive for the virus.
New York has proved to be the epicentre of the pandemic in the US, accounting for more than a third of the 77,313 American deaths from COVID-19.
Mr Cuomo said 226 New Yorkers died from COVID-19 on Friday, up from 216 on Thursday but less than half the levels recorded two weeks ago.