The Ontario government has said it is taking immediate action after an increase in a mysterious inflammatory disease in children that may be linked to COVID-19.
Health officials say the disease appears to be similar to Kawasaki syndrome, a rare but serious inflammatory disease. Symptoms associated with this disease include persistent fever, abdominal pain, and gastrointestinal symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, as well as a rash.
Elliott said that in consultation with Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, the government is immediately updating the case definition of COVID-19 to include multisystem inflammatory vasculitis as an atypical symptom in children.
“This will help clinicians make clinical assessments of patients who may be experiencing symptoms, including some of the most vulnerable patients, children,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said on Wednesday.
“Recent reports in Canada and abroad indicate that there may be an increase in inflammatory multi-system vasculitis, a rare but serious multi-system inflammatory disease that affects children who have been diagnosed with COVID-19.”
Elliott said recent data in Canada indicates that the majority of COVID-19 infections in children are mild and do not require hospitalization. People under the age of 19 account for only 5% of cases in the country and no children have died.
The Hospital’s Sick Children assistant pediatrician, Dr. Jeremy Friedman, told CTV News Toronto on Tuesday that reports of an inflammatory disease had put staff on alert.
Read more: Canadian doctors study possible link between COVID-19 and rare disease in children
“It is certainly very suspicious that it appears to be linked to the COVID-19 pandemic and, of course, this will put us on high alert,” said Friedman.
He said he was aware of reports that the children “present themselves very sick” with a disease similar to Kawasaki syndrome.
“Based on what we have heard from European countries from the United States and now from Montreal, it would be a big surprise to me if we don’t see a start to see some cases in the coming weeks.