A baby has died of the coronavirus-linked Kawasaki disease aged eight months, becoming Britain’s youngest known victim of the rare childhood syndrome.
Alexander Parsons, who had no underlying health conditions, passed away aged eight months after being admitted to Plymouth’s Derriford Hospital on April 6 and suffering a ruptured aneurysm.
He was diagnosed with Kawaski disease, which causes blood vessels throughout the body to swell, after developing a ‘pinprick’ rash, fever and swollen lymph nodes.
The baby boy died in the arms of his mother, Kathryn Rowlands, 29, who said she will ‘never be whole again’.
She told the Mirror: ‘I can’t believe I carried him for longer than he was alive. I will never be whole again.
‘He was my greatest achievement. He could have gone on to do whatever he wanted with his life. Now he’ll only ever be eight months old.’
Praising the medical staff who tried to save Alex, she added: ‘The doctors and nurses who fought to save Alex were incredible – but if they’d known more about the Covid-Kawasaki link, they possibly could have done more.’
The illness, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), was found by scientists to be caused by coronavirus last month.
The CDC previously said: ‘Healthcare providers who have cared or are caring for patients younger than 21 years of age meeting MIS-C criteria should report suspected cases to their local, state, or territorial health department.’
The condition had previously been referred to as Pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (PMIS) by the state of New York in the United States where there have been more than a hundred reported cases, including at least three deaths.
Treatment involves injecting antibodies as well as administering steroids and aspirin in case patients experienced a sudden loss of blood pressure, called ‘shock.’
Sunil Sood, a pediatrician at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New York, said that cases mainly seemed to emerge four to six weeks after a child had been infected and had already developed antibodies.
‘They had the virus, the body fought it off earlier. But now there’s this delayed exaggerated immune response,’ he said.
Doctors should be on the lookout for the condition and report suspected cases to local or state health departments. It should be suspected in all deaths in children who had evidence of Covid-19 infection, the CDC said.
Schools will throw a ‘protective bubble’ around young pupils, Gavin Williamson vowed today as he attempted to outflank furious teaching unions and reopen classrooms next month.
The Education Secretary attempted to pile pressure on opponents of his plans tonight as he warned of the dire ‘consequences if children did not start returning to school.
He made a blunt appeal to the emotions of parents tonight as he insisted planning can begin to reopen classrooms from in little more than a fortnight.
Outlining his plans for reception, year 1 and 6 – as well as years 10 and 12 – to return from June 1, he insisted ‘they stand to lose more by staying away from school’.
He revealed that those who return, as well as their parents, will join teachers in being eligible for free coronavirus tests, as he outlined measures schools will take avoid a surge in the killer disease.
They include small classes and keeping children in small socially-distanced groups, with Mr Williamson saying: ‘We are creating a protective bubble around them, reducing the amount of mixing and making sure that these small groups stay together, almost like a family within a classroom.’
Asked about testing and tracing, Mr Williamson added: ‘School staff can already be tested for the virus, but from the first of June we’ll extend that to cover children and their families if any of them develop symptoms.
‘Together these measures will create an inherently safer system where the risk of transmission is substantially reduced for children, their teachers and also their families.’
However, concerns have been raised over the track and trace regime amid fears there are not enough staff to run it alongside a smartphone app.
It was the latest development in a boiling row between ministers, trade unions and local authorities over the safety of sending children back to school.
Hartlepool in County Durham joined Liverpool this morning in saying it would ignore the Government’s plan to let some primary school pupils back to the school from June 1.
And the doctor’s union added its weight to the opposition, saying teachers representatives are ‘absolutely right’ to argue it is unsafe for schools to open next month.
But at a press conference, Mr Williamson said: ‘There is a consequence to this, the longer that schools are closed the more that children miss out.
‘Teachers know that there are children out there that have not spoken or played with another child their own age for the last two months.
‘They know there are children from difficult or very unhappy homes for whom school is the happiest moment in their week, and it’s also the safest place for them to be.’
Young children will still be able to socially distance at school, the deputy chief medical officer has said.
Speaking at Saturday’s Downing Street briefing, deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries explained how social distancing can work in classrooms with young children.
Dr Harries said plans include having small groups ‘where you increase the level of interaction a small amount, but it is contained’.
She said: ‘Although it is recognised that small children will run around and interact, we expect them to, but you can still distance. I know this is the plan.’
She also suggested that desks could be placed appropriate distances apart from one another to prevent long periods of close contact.
Dr Harries added: ‘A child rushing past another one in a normal area is probably not much of a risk.
‘But if they were sitting directly opposite to each other in a very small space, close together for a long amount of time – that might be more of a risk.
‘All of the interventions are designed to minimise those, while still allowing children to learn.’