New York: In a worrisome development, 15 children in New York, some of whom had coronavirus, have recently been hospitalized with a mysterious inflammatory syndrome, with doctors not yet fully aware of the spectrum of the disease.

The New York City health department said that children aged 2-15 years had been hospitalised from April 17- May 1 with Kawasaki disease or features of toxic shock.

While the “full spectrum of disease is not yet known,” the department said patients with this syndrome who have been admitted to pediatric intensive care units (PICUs) have required cardiac and/or respiratory support. “Only severe cases may have been recognised at this time,” it said.

The children had reported fever, rash, abdominal pain, vomiting, or diarrhoea.

Of the 15 children, four had tested positive for COVID-19. More than half of the reported patients required blood pressure support and five required mechanical ventilation. No fatalities have been reported among these cases, the department said.

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A report in The New York Times said that according to the state health commissioner Howard Zucker, officials were investigating the unexplained syndrome.

The syndrome has received growing attention in recent weeks as cases began appearing in European countries hit hard by the coronavirus.

"There are some recent rare descriptions of children in some European countries that have had this inflammatory syndrome, which is similar to the Kawasaki syndrome, but it seems to be very rare,” Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, a World Health Organisation scientist, said at a news briefing last week.

New York City health commissioner Oxiris Barbot said in a statement that “even though the relationship of this syndrome to COVID-19 is not yet defined, and not all of these cases have tested positive for COVID-19 by either DNA test or serology, the clinical nature of this virus is such that we are asking all providers to contact us immediately if they see patients who meet the criteria we’ve outlined.”

"And to parents,” she added, “if your child has symptoms like fever, rash, abdominal pain or vomiting, call your doctor right away.”