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Illnesses In Children Being Monitored After Signs Rare Disease Could Be Linked To Coronavirus

By LEANDRA ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

lrolle@tribunemedia.net

HEALTH officials are “actively” searching for signs of inflammatory illnesses among children who tested positive for COVID-19 after international reports have revealed that a rare disease found in children could be linked to the virus.

The New York Times on Thursday said some 100 children in New York have been diagnosed with a condition called paediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome, with several cases confirmed in other US states.

Meanwhile, in Europe, at least 50 cases have been reported among children there.

According to the NYT, studies conducted by Italian doctors have shown the new syndrome “appears to be a delayed reaction driven by a child’s immune system response” to the COVID-19 infection.

Asked by The Tribune yesterday whether health officials have seen any of the symptoms in children who tested positive for the virus, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Delon Brennen replied: “No, we haven’t seen it.”

Still, he said officials are keeping a close eye on the matter.

“We’re actively monitoring to see if any of our children develop severe disease and the inflammatory reaction that goes along with it,” he told The Tribune.

Meanwhile, the NYT reported the rare disease struck children weeks after COVID-19 infection.

“The presence of antibodies suggests that the Italian children, like many of the cases in the United States, were infected with the virus weeks earlier,” the paper reported.

“Experts say the new inflammatory syndrome appears to be a delayed reaction driven by a child’s immune system response to the infection, in contrast to the primary way that the virus affects patients by attacking the cells in their lungs.”

Symptoms of the syndrome can include high fever, skin rashes, loss of appetite and in some cases, heart inflammation. Children were initially thought not to be at a high risk for complications for COVID-19, but as more data emerges, new risks and guidelines for the public are revealed.

Dr Brennen advised parents to contact the Ministry of Health or a healthcare provider if their children have had contact with a positive COVID-19 person.

“And then, we would have them on our contact tracing list where we would get in contact with them on a daily basis to make sure if there or any development of symptoms that we may be able to recognize sooner or later,” he said.

Last month, the Ministry of Health reported that a nine-year-old girl had tested positive for the virus in Grand Bahama, becoming the first child to be infected with the fast spreading disease.

Since then, several others have tested positive for COVID-19, including an 11-year-old girl and a 15-year-old girl. Asked yesterday about their current condition, Dr Brennen said the patients were doing fine.

To date, there are 96 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country.

In view of this, Dr Brennen told The Tribune it’s very important for people to adhere to the social distancing guidelines and refrain from touching their faces as the virus can also be transmitted to the body through the eyes.

This comes after a new study found that the human eye is “susceptible” to infection from the novel coronavirus.

Speaking on the matter yesterday, Dr Brennen said: “Yes, (the virus) can enter through the eyes, (which is) another mucus membrane. It’s why we tell people not to touch their mouth, nose, or eyes. If people wear the correct masks, they won’t spread droplets that will get into other’s eyes.”

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