UK doctors have issued an “urgent alert” about a coronavirus-related condition emerging in children that requires intensive care treatment.

The alert has been sent to GPs and states that in the “last three weeks, there has been an apparent rise in the number of children of all ages presenting with a multisystem inflammatory state requiring intensive care across London and also in other regions of the UK”.

It continues: ““There is a growing concern that a [coronavirus] 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.”

Children struck by form of toxic shock syndrome

The affected children “appear to have been struck by a form of toxic shock syndrome”, reports the Guardian, with most cases so far seen in London and other parts of the UK.

Some children have required intensive care treatment for the condition and NHS bosses have instructed GPs to refer any children with symptoms to hospital “as a matter of urgency.”

The number of children affected is thought to be “very small, according to paediatric sources,” reported by the Health Service Journal (HSJ), which has seen the alert that was initially issued to GPs in North London. The condition has been found in children who have tested positive for Covid-19 as well as those who have not.

The warning has since been sent to doctors more widely and was issued as an “urgent alert” by the Paediatric Intensive Care Society (PICS) last night (Sunday).

Abdominal pain and gastrointestinal symptoms

The alert states: “The cases have in common overlapping features of toxic shock syndrome and atypical Kawasaki Disease with blood parameters consistent with severe Covid-19 in children.

“Abdominal pain and gastrointestinal symptoms have been a common feature as has cardiac inflammation. This has been observed in children with confirmed PCR positive SARS-CoV-2 infection as well as children who are PCR negative. Serological evidence of possible preceding SARS-CoV-2 infection has also been observed.”

PICS are advising ”early discussion” of potential cases “with regional paediatric infectious disease and critical care teams.”

Worried parents urged to contact GPs or NHS 111

NHS England’s national clinical director for children and young people, Simon Kenny said: “Thankfully Kawasaki-like diseases are very rare, as currently are serious complications in children related to Covid-19, but it is important that clinicians are made aware of any potential emerging links so that they are able to give children and young people the right care fast.

“The advice to parents remains the same: if you are worried about your child for whatever reason, contact NHS 111 or your family doctor for urgent advice, or 999 in an emergency, and if a professional tells you to go to hospital, please go to hospital.”

Schools in the UK have been closed since March 20 as part of the nation’s lockdown to fight the coronavirus.