Health Highlights: April 28, 2020

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Rare, Serious Illness May Occur in Children With COVID-19

Abdominal pain, gastrointestinal complaints and heart inflammation are among the symptoms in children with a rare syndrome that may be linked to COVID-19, British health officials say.

An urgent alert about a small rise in the number of cases of critically ill children with “overlapping features of toxic shock syndrome and atypical Kawasaki disease with blood parameters” among some children who’ve testing positive for COVID-19 was tweeted Sunday by the Paediatric Intensive Care Society (PICS) UK, CNN reported.

Kawasaki disease is a rare childhood illness that causes the walls of the blood vessels to become inflamed.

Over the last three weeks, “there has been an apparent rise in the number of children of all ages presenting with a multi-system inflammatory state requiring intensive care across London and also in other regions of the UK,” according to the alert sent to U.K. general practitioners by the National Health Service (NHS), according to the Health Service Journal, CNN reported.

“There is a growing concern that a [covid-19]-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,” the alert stated.

PICS said there “very few cases” of critically unwell children with COVID-19 admitted to pediatric intensive care units in the U.K. and around the world, but they knew of a “small number of children nationally” who have the symptoms outlined in the NHS alert, CNN reported.

The risk of children becoming severely ill with COVID-19 remains low, according to health experts.

“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,” Simon Kenny, NHS national clinical director for children and young people, told CNN.

Although a small number of children can become severely ill with COVID-19, it is “very rare,” and evidence shows that children appear to be least affected by the new coronavirus, according to Professor Russell Viner, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

“However our advice remains the same: parents should be reassured that children are unlikely to be seriously ill with Covid-19 but if they are concerned about their children’s health for any reason, they should seek help from a health professional,” Viner told CNN.


Coronavirus Vaccine Shows Promise

A potential vaccine against the new coronavirus shows promise and could begin human testing within a few weeks.

The vaccine was developed by researchers at Oxford University in the U.K. and appears to be effective in lab animals. If regulators give approval, a clinical trial involving more than 6,000 people could be launched by the end of May, The New York Times reported.

U.S. National Institutes of Health scientists tested the vaccine on six rhesus macaque monkeys last month and got good results. Despite being exposed to large amounts of the coronavirus, all of the monkeys were still healthy more than four weeks later.

If the human trials go well and the vaccine is approved for use, the Oxford team said they could have a few million doses of the vaccine available by September, far sooner than other vaccine projects, the Times reported.


Battle Against Community Spread of Coronavirus in New Zealand Has Been Won: PM

New Zealand has “won” the battle against widespread community transmission of the new coronavirus, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Monday.

New cases of coronavirus in the country have been “in the single digits” over the past several days, Ardern said in a press conference, CBS News reported.

The “incredible” low numbers of recent new cases is due to the “sacrifices that every single New Zealander has made,” Ardern said.

There was just one new confirmed case of coronavirus in New Zealand on Monday, with four “probable” cases. The national total of confirmed cases is 1,122, and there have been 19 deaths, health officials said, CBS News reported.

“There is no widespread, undetected community transmission in New Zealand. We have won that battle,” Ardern said. “But we must remain vigilant if we are to keep it that way.”


Six New COVID-19 Symptoms Added to CDC List

Six new symptoms of COVID-19 have been added to a list from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The new symptoms include: chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell. Previously listed symptoms include fever, cough and shortness or breath or difficulty breathing.

Also on the list: emergency warning signs that a case of COVID-19 requires immediate medical attention. These warning signs include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, any new confusion or inability to arouse, bluish lips or face, the CDC said.

This list of emergency warning signs is not all-inclusive, the agency added. Consult your medical provider about any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you, the CDC advised.

Call 911 if you have a medical emergency, and tell the operator that you have, or think you might have, COVID-19. If possible, put on a cloth face covering before medical help arrives.