Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) associated with COVID-19 has been included to the Notifiable Medical Conditions (NMCs) in South Africa.
NMCs are diseases that are of public health importance because they pose significant public health risks, which can result in disease outbreaks or epidemics with high case fatality rates both nationally and internationally.
"Although MIS-C is a rare syndrome, there are reports of MIS-C associated with COVID-19 globally and more recently in South Africa," the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) explained.
The NICD said it is expecting to see more MIS-C cases over the next few months throughout the country as Coronavirus continues to spread.
"Widespread awareness and early recognition are crucial," the NICD stressed.
According to the institution, healthcare workers responsible for patients between the ages of zero and 19 should notify authorities immediately of a probable or confirmed case through the Notifiable Medical Conditions Surveillance System (NMCSS).
MIS-C is a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes and gastrointestinal organs.
"We do not yet know what causes MIS-C. However, we know that many children with MIS-C had the virus that causes COVID-19, or had been around someone with COVID-19."
Parents or guardians should contact their doctor or nearest clinic if they notice symptoms like fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, neck pain, rash, bloodshot eyes and feeling extra tired.
The condition is said to be serious, even deadly, the institution warned.
However, most children who were diagnosed with MIS-C have become better with medical care, the NICD said.
A group of paediatricians and other experts have since been roped in to collate and analyse data on MIS-C cases reported through the NMCSS.
This data is expected to shed light on the true burden of MIS-C in the country and to inform decisions on the clinical and epidemiological management of this condition.
The NICD has also noted limited data that suggest clinical manifestations of COVID-19 are generally milder in children than adults.
"However, reports from Europe and North America describe clusters of children and adolescents requiring admission to intensive care with an MIS-C," said the NICD.
It encouraged all clinicians to notify these cases to the NMCSS.
"Every doctor, nurse or health care provider in both the public and private health sector, who diagnoses a patient with any one of the NMCs, must report the case. Failure to report an NMC is a criminal offence," NICD said.