French Minister of Welfare Olivier Veran said that there was not enough evidence to establish a link with the coronavirus which is sweeping the world, but France took the circumstances “very seriously”.
The National Health Service, managed by the British government, issued a warning this weekend to a few small children with an unusual set of signs, as well as stomach upset and irritation requiring admission to intensive care.
In London, Welfare Minister Matt Hancock spoke on Tuesday of “early signs that in rare cases there is an impact of an autoimmune response in children that causes a significant disease”.
“This is a new disease which we believe may be caused by the coronavirus and the COVID-19 virus,” he said.
But he said that while a number of the children who tested it were positive for the virus, others were not.
Cases have also been reported in Italy, Spain and Switzerland, Veran said on Franceinfo news radio, notably that he had received an alert from Paris concerning “around 15 children of all ages”.
The French minister listed the signs of fever, digestive problems and vascular irritation that can lead to heart failure.
“Fortunately, to my knowledge, no child has died from these complications, which are fairly rare conditions that can be accompanied by heart inflammation,” said Mr. Veran.
Some of the circumstances “in France as in England, but not all, turned out to be carriers of the coronavirus”, causing “a certain anxiety and vigilance”.
“I take this very seriously. We have absolutely no medical explanation at this point.
“Is it an inflammatory response that unites a preexisting situation in children who have this virus or is it another infectious disease?” There are a variety of questions. “
Veran urged international and French experts to collect as much data as possible to establish whether a link can be made between the coronavirus and the new symptoms, “which until now had not been seen anywhere.”
France intends to reopen primary schools from May 11 and the minister noted that the children had largely escaped COVID-19 infection and that the serious cases concerned people suffering from underlying diseases.
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