12-year-old girl dies of COVID-19 in Belgium
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12-year-old girl dies of COVID-19 in Belgium

Case highlights that in some rare cases, kids are also vulnerable to virus; government doesn’t identify victim nor say if she had underlying health issues

Medical workers put on their protective gears before working on March 27, 2020, at the unit for coronavirus COVID-19 infected patients at the Erasme Hospital in Brussels. (Photo by Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP)
Medical workers put on their protective gears before working on March 27, 2020, at the unit for coronavirus COVID-19 infected patients at the Erasme Hospital in Brussels. (Photo by Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP)

BRUSSELS, Belgium — A 12-year-old girl confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 has died in Belgium, health officials said Tuesday.

Fatality from the virus at such a young age “is a very rare occurrence,” said government spokesman Dr. Emmanuel Andre, adding that her death “shook us.”

The girl had a fever for three days before her death, and tested positive for COVID-19, said another spokesman, Steven Van Gucht.

The government gave no other details, notably not saying whether she had any other underlying health problems.

The girl’s school is located in the city of Ghent, whose mayor Mathias De Clercq issued a statement about the “sad news,” expressing condolences to the girl’s family.

It added that the girl, whom he did not name, had not been at the school since March 13, just before a nationwide shutdown.

It was the first death of a child in the coronavirus crisis in Belgium, which has now recorded 705 deaths according to the latest official toll.

Last week, France reported the death of a 16-year-old girl from coronavirus in the greater Paris region.

Although serious COVID-19 infections are uncommon among the young, some exceptional cases have been taken to hospital intensive-care wards, as US health authorities have pointed out.

Belgium’s toll on Tuesday represented a jump of nearly 200 fatalities from that given the previous day, which stood at 513.

It comprised 98 deaths recorded in the preceding 24-hour period, plus another 94 deaths over previous days that had not been counted in the national tally, Andre said.

The small EU country, with a population of 11.4 million, now has 12,775 cases of people testing positive for COVID-19, of whom 4,920 have been hospitalized, including 1,021 in intensive care.

Hospitals in Brussels, the Dutch-speaking province of Limburg and the surroundings of Charleroi and Mons are now confronted with “a more complicated situation” as beds fill up, Andre said.

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