A new illness tied to the coronavirus has claimed the lives of three young children and sickened 73 others in New York, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo confirmed on Saturday.
“The illness has taken the lives of three young New Yorkers,” Cuomo said during his daily briefing in Manhattan. “This is new. This is developing.”
Cuomo also confirmed that many of the children, some just toddlers, had no signs of respiratory symptoms commonly linked to the coronavirus when they arrived at the hospital. However, they all tested positive for Covid-19 or its antibodies.
“So it is still very much a situation that is developing, but it is a serious situation,” he added.
The alarming phenomenon, which was first publicly identified last week, is a toxic-shock-like inflammation that affects the skin, the eyes, blood vessels, and the heart, the New York Times reports. The syndrome can leave children critically sick, even requiring mechanical ventilation in some cases. Some of the associated symptoms resemble a rare childhood illness called Kawasaki disease, which also leads to inflammation of the blood vessels, especially the coronary arteries, according to the publication.
The mysterious syndrome is not exclusive to New York. A small number of cases have also been reported in Louisiana, Mississippi, and California. At least 50 cases have been reported in European countries, including Britain, France, Switzerland, Spain, and Italy.
Public health officials have long believed that children typically do not experience the more severe effects of Covid-19. However, the death of a 5-year-old in New York City who had the illness described as a “pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome” has raised new questions about how bad the illness can get in children.
The state will collaborate with the New York Genome Center and Rockefeller University to investigate what is causing the illness, which Cuomo called “truly disturbing.”
Prior to the announcement of the child deaths related to the new illness, less than four children under the age of 10 had died of the virus in New York, according to the most recent breakdown from the state.