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France records first child fatality from rare disease linked to Covid-19

La Timone hospital in Marseille, in southern France, where the child's death was announced on Friday.
La Timone hospital in Marseille, in southern France, where the child's death was announced on Friday. © Boris Horvat, AFP

A nine-year-old boy has died in France from a rare disease believed to be linked to coronavirus, his doctor said on Friday, the first such death in the country as similar child fatalities are being investigated in New York and London.

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The child died after a "neurological injury related to a cardiac arrest", said Fabrice Michel, head of the paediatric intensive care unit at La Timone hospital in the Mediterranean port city of Marseille.

The boy, who tested positive for coronavirus, received treatment at the hospital for seven days and died on Saturday, the doctor told AFP.

In the last three weeks, several countries have reported cases of children affected by an inflammatory disease with symptoms similar to those of a rare condition, Kawasaki's disease. Scientists believe it is linked to Covid-19. 

A London children's hospital said on Wednesday that a 14-year-old boy with no underlying health conditions had died from the disease and had tested positive for the new coronavirus. 

In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday that three children in the state had died and more than 100 cases were being investigated.

The illness, which the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) called multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), was first reported in Britain in late April.

"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," said the CDC.

The criteria include fever, multiple inflamed organs that cause severe illness requiring hospitalisation, a confirmed active or recent coronavirus infection, and the absence of other plausible causes.

Doctors treating children with the disease have reported symptoms including rashes, abdominal pain, conjunctivitis and a red or swollen tongue.

There have been 125 reported cases in France between March 1 and May 12, according to the country's public health agency. The patients' ages ranged from one to 14.

Inflammation of blood vessels and cardiac damage are "much more pronounced" in cases suspected of being linked to Covid-19 compared with classic Kawasaki disease, France's public health agency said Thursday.

Michel, the paediatric doctor in Marseille, stressed that the disease is rare. Children should see a doctor if they have fever for more than two days and associated symptoms, he said.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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