A doctor wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) places a saliva swab into a test tube for analysis during coronavirus symptom tests (Representational Image) | Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi | Bloomberg
A doctor wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) places a saliva swab into a test tube for analysis during coronavirus symptom tests (Representational Image) | Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi | Bloomberg
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New Delhi: India reported its youngest death due to Covid-19 Sunday, when a one-and-a-half-month-old baby died at Delhi’s Kalawati Saran Children’s Hospital, which is attached to the central government-run Lady Hardinge Medical College.

This is the first fatality of an infant due to the novel coronavirus in India, and has left even doctors surprised and calling it a “rare case”.

“It is really heartbreaking. This case is very rare as Covid-19 infections are found to be deadlier in elderly people and not among infants and children,” Dr N.N. Mathur, director, Lady Hardinge Medical College and Kalawati Saran Children Hospital, told ThePrint.

The previous youngest death in India was reported on 8 April, when a 14-month-old boy who tested positive for Covid-19 in Gujarat’s Jamnagar district died of multiple organ failure.

The 45-day-old baby was admitted in the Delhi hospital due to respiratory distress in the ‘Severe Acute Respiratory Illness (SARI)’ ward. “SARI is one of the symptoms to test for Covid-19, and we followed the same protocol. The child was Covid-19 positive,” Mathur said, saying he didn’t want to disclose too many details out of consideration for the grief-stricken family.

But he did add that “all the family members including the parents are now being tested for Covid-19. The contact tracing has begun. Till now, the family is unaware about any contact history with a Covid-19 positive case”.

Also read: Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal says lockdown won’t be relaxed just yet, Covid-19 still spreading

Infants and Covid-19

It was earlier thought that the pandemic won’t affect children as severely as the elderly or people suffering from co-morbidities such as heart disease, diabetes or respiratory problems.

The US reported the first known death of an infant due to Covid-19 in Illinois last month, with Governor J.B. Pritzker saying the virus is “rarely fatal” among children.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), the age of coronavirus cases ranges from younger than one to 99 years, but newborns, babies and young children have so far seemed to be mostly unaffected; any symptoms in children have only been mild.

A study on 508 patients by the American Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported no fatalities among children.

However, in the CDC’s latest study on more than 2,500 Covid-19 cases among under-18s, the data suggested that the infants recorded a higher hospitalisation rate than any other child age group. Of 95 infants, 62 percent were hospitalised.

“The study authors recommended that doctors maintain a high index of suspicion for children who could have Covid-19, especially for infants and kids with underlying conditions,” according to Science Alert.

The later study did find, though, that children are less likely to develop coronavirus symptoms than adults. It found that out of the total reported cases in the US, only 1.7 percent were children, compared to their 22 per cent share in the total population.

Also read: Is India’s Covid-19 curve flattening? Cases now double every 10 days, from 3 before lockdown


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