VANCOUVER -- Three children have died in New York and hundreds more have been hospitalized across the U.S. and around the world. Now B.C. Children’s Hospital is on alert for a new syndrome that is likely linked to COVID-19.

"I think it's going to be very difficult to definitively prove it’s related to COVID, but all signs are pointing to that direction," said B.C. Children’s Hospital pediatrician Dr. Srinivas Murthy. He says the fact most cases of the new syndrome are in cities that have had large outbreaks of COVID-19 is further evidence the two are likely connected.

Symptoms include fever, swollen lips, red eyes and rashes, which are consistent with Kawasaki disease, a condition that sometimes occurs in children after they’ve battled an infection.

"This would be something more severe than that," said Murthy. "In this new syndrome, we’re seeing things like low blood pressure and some gastrointestinal symptoms as well, and some swollen lymph nodes."

Patients typically haven’t had the respiratory illness most commonly associated with COVID-19, but they have tested positive for the virus or its antibodies, suggesting they’ve been infected at some point.

“We have not had any children yet in B.C. who have experienced this syndrome. There have been a small number that may be related in Montreal that we have heard about, so yes we are watching it,” said B.C.’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. "Pediatricians and clinicians know what to look for and parents need to be aware of it as well."

At B.C. Children’s Hospital, Murthy says, "If a child comes in and they meet some criteria in terms of fevers or rash, the things that I described, it would be considered as one of the diagnoses."

While B.C.’s relatively low number of COVID cases makes the condition less likely here, Murthy says parents should watch their children closely.

"If there are odd symptoms like rashes and gastrointestinal issues and swelling, then definitely start making some phone calls and seek out care," he said.