Coronavirus and Kawasaki disease

Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

A toddler from West Yorkshire was left in intensive after being diagnosed with Kawasaki disease. This followed her apparent recent recovery from Covid-19, which she contracted five weeks ago.

Scarlett Roberts, from Wakefield, was admitted to Pinderfields hospital with a high temperature and nausea and then transferred to an intensive care unit at Leeds Children’s Hospital. She was on a ventilator, but is reported to have made huge progress over the last 24 hours and has now been moved out of intensive care, according to her stepdad Piers Roberts, also of Wakefield.

Up to 100 children in the UK are now known to have been affected by the rare inflammatory disease that may be linked to coronavirus. There have been reports of the condition in several other European countries as well as in North America. Kawasaki disease is not itself contagious and usually only affects around eight in every 100,000 children under the age of five.

An NHS England alert, shared by the Paediatric Intensive Care Society at the end of last month, stated: “There is a growing concern that [a Covid-19-related] inflammatory syndrome is emerging in children in the UK, or that there may be another, as yet unidentified infectious pathogen associated with these cases.”

Despite the emergence of Kawasaki cases in the UK, former education secretary Michael Gove yesterday told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that the UK can “learn” from the reopening of schools in other European countries, such as Denmark. “You can never eliminate risk,” he said. “It is the case that it is extremely unlikely that any school is likely to be the source of a Covid outbreak.”

“The only way ever to ensure that you never catch coronavirus is to stay at home completely. But there is always, always, always, in any loosening of these restrictions, a risk of people catching the coronavirus,” the Cabinet Office minister said.

Speaking earlier today Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden told Sky News that ministers want to work in a “constructive way” with teachers and unions to address their “legitimate concerns” about schools reopening. However, the government has not yet ruled out penalising regions that refuse to reopen schools. When pressed by Sky News’ Kay Burley about the proposed penalty Mr Dowden said: “I really hope it doesn’t come to that.”

The Association of School and College Leaders has said it is advising schools to begin reopening from 1 June. There is yet to be a confirmed timetable for children returning to classrooms in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The British Medical Association has said coronavirus cases should be “much lower” before schools reopen.