NEW JERSEY — State officials on Saturday said the 4-year-old reported dead from the coronavirus this week did not also have the inflammatory syndrome Kawasaki disease.

While the underlying condition was not Kawasaki disease — a syndrome being discovered in children with COVID-19 — the child’s undisclosed condition was a contributing factor, state Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said.

“That individual did have a significant underlying condition,” Persichilli said at the governor’s COVID-19 briefing. “And it obviously complicated the situation.”

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Again citing the family’s privacy, Gov. Phil Murphy declined to provide additional details surrounding the child’s death. It is first COVID-19 death reported in New Jersey of anyone under age 18.

“This is a very specific situation with this blessed little kid, and we’re going to leave at that,” Murphy said. “If it were something other than a very specific situation, we would have the burden of responsibility to say so.”

The child’s death reported in New Jersey Friday came one day after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a news release reported 73 potential cases of Kawasaki disease associated with COVID-19 in his state. Those cases included the death of a 5-year-old New York City boy, the release said.

Responding in New Jersey, state Health Department Communicable Disease Service Medical Director Ed Lifshitz said medical professionals have begun reporting similar cases and encouraged clinicians seeing such situations to quickly reach out infectious disease specialists.

“Kawasaki disease is a rare inflammation of blood vessels that essentially affects children,” Lifschitz said Thursday. “It is particularly concerning because they often have relatively nonspecific symptoms and it is something that there is some treatment out there that can help prevent a pretty severe outcome.”

Still, Lifschitz said that of the approximately 130,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in New Jersey, only 2% are under age 18. And of those cases, he said, 6% are being hospitalized.

The release from the New York governor’s office advised parents to seek immediate care if they see the following symptoms in their children:

  • Prolonged fever (more than five days)
  • Difficulty feeding (infants) or is too sick to drink fluids
  • Severe abdominal pain, diarrhea or vomiting
  • Change in skin color — becoming pale, patchy and/or blue
  • Trouble breathing or is breathing very quickly
  • Racing heart or chest pain
  • Decreased amount of frequency in urine
  • Lethargy, irritability or confusion

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