New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) speaks at a press conference about COVID-19 and the closing of K-12 public schools in New York City.

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New York City health officials are worried about a rising number of cases of a potentially fatal inflammatory syndrome that’s causing heart and kidney failure in children with Covid-19, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Tuesday. 

“This was not something that the healthcare community saw on their radar and then in the last week or two, suddenly, we’re seeing something that’s very troubling,” de Blasio said at his daily press briefing. 

There are 52 confirmed cases of pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome and 10 cases pending. Of those cases, 25 children have tested positive for Covid-19 and 22 others had antibodies against the disease, suggesting they previously had the coronavirus and recovered. One child in the city has died from the disease, officials said. 

Health officials are still struggling to understand how the virus impacts people of different ages. Scientists originally thought kids couldn’t become severely ill from the coronavirus, but they have recently identified a rare  inflammatory syndrome similar to Kawasaki disease in children that have Covid-19 or the antibodies to the disease.

City officials said the symptoms in children differ from the most common coronavirus symptoms in adults, which include a sore throat, fever, dry cough and trouble breathing. They advised parents to immediately call their doctor if their child has a persistent fever, rash, abdominal pain and vomiting. 

“Prolonged fever, a rash, having really red bright lips, swollen hands and feet, they could have abdominal pains, all of these symptoms, especially if they come together, are concerning indications that these children need to be evaluated for in-patient treatments,”  Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot said.

Most of the kids who have developed the inflammatory syndrome are between 5 and 9 years old,  she previously said. 

“This is something where the quicker a parents reports, then the quicker a healthcare professional can evaluate, the more chance of protecting the child and seeing them through this challenge safely,” de Blasio said.

Kawasaki disease, a rare inflammatory syndrome in young children, causes high fever and swelling in blood vessels. 

De Blasio said parents who don’t have access to a pediatrician can call the city’s 311 line and be connected to a medical professional to discuss their child’s health. 

“Early detection, early action makes all the difference here,” he said. 

New York state is investigating how Covid-19 impacts children after a 5-year-old boy in New York City died last week from coronavirus-related complications, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. He said there have been 73 cases in the state of children falling severely ill with similar symptoms.

“Caution to all people who again may have believed that their child couldn’t be affected by Covid,” Cuomo said at a press conference on Friday. “This information suggests we may want to revisit that quote-unquote fact, that assumption, and if you see any of the symptoms that are on the chart that your child is evidencing, caution should be taken.”

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