NEW YORK/TOKYO -- The U.S., U.K., France and other Western countries are facing a rise in the number of children who test positive for the new coronavirus and show Kawasaki disease symptoms.
Kawasaki disease triggers inflammation in children's blood vessels and, early after onset, brings about a high fever. It can also lead to long-term heart problems, including heart attacks. Named after a physician, its cause remains unknown more than 50 years after it was first noticed.
In the U.S. state of New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday revealed that 73 children who have been confirmed with the virus have shown symptoms consistent with Kawasaki disease. Among the patients was a 5-year-old boy who died on Thursday.
It has been reported that the coronavirus leaves children largely unscathed, giving them slight or no symptoms.
Debates about when to reopen schools are about to kick off in the U.S., and one point of contention will be over what enhanced measures will be needed to prevent children from contracting the virus.
The Kawasaki disease revelation could inflame these debates.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said 10 children who have tested positive for the coronavirus are among 15 children who are showing Kawasaki disease symptoms. A Los Angeles-based children's hospital has reported three coronavirus patients who have shown Kawasaki disease symptoms.
The Japanese Society of Kawasaki Disease this week announced on its website that it has "not yet found" information in Japan or neighboring countries that shows a connection between the virus and Kawasaki disease.
The academic group in the three months through April asked its members to confirm any rise in the number of patients of Kawasaki disease but has not received any response indicating such a case.
The group said it "will monitor the latest situation."
Additional reporting by Eri Sugiura in Tokyo.