A 5-year-old in New York has died of an illness linked to the novel coronavirus that has sickened at least 73 children in the state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Friday.
The boy’s death on Thursday is the first known fatality in New York related to the ailment, which the state department of health has labelled “multi-system inflammatory syndrome associated with COVID-19”.
“This would be really painful news and would open up an entirely different chapter, because I can’t tell you how many people I spoke to who took peace and solace in the fact that children were not getting infected,” Cuomo told a daily press conference.
He said the health department was investigating whether other child deaths were due to the illness.
Children generally have not developed severe disease from virus, with adults making up most of the known cases to date.
In an advisory note on Wednesday, New York’s department of health said the majority of the children hospitalised with the syndrome tested positive for the virus or had antibodies, suggesting they had been infected.
The illness “has features which overlap with Kawasaki Disease,” a rare vascular condition in children, and toxic shock syndrome, officials said.
Symptoms can include fever, abdominal pain and rash.
Doctors do not yet fully understand the syndrome, which began appearing in recent weeks in New York, the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.
Cases have also been reported in other US states, including California, as well as in Britain and Europe.