A 13-day-old baby has died after becoming infected with coronavirus, NHS officials have revealed.
The infant, who is not known to have had any underlying health conditions, passed away on Monday at Sheffield Children’s Hospital having been rushed there after becoming unconscious.
Hospital bosses said they have not yet established the cause of death, but they confirmed the child tested positive for Covid-19.
If confirmed as the primary cause of death, it would make the baby the youngest UK victim of the pandemic so far. Previously, the youngest victim with no pre-existing health problems was thought to be Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab, who died in March aged just 13.
In May two children, aged three days and six weeks, died with Covid-19, but both were found to have suffered from underlying conditions. Child health experts have stressed continuously that cases of severe Covid-19 among children are extremely rare.
The death of the 13-day baby, who has not been named, was announced amid daily figures from NHS England which showed that a further 62 Covid-19 patients had died in English hospitals, with the eldest aged 96.
The deaths are among 135 in all settings, a 26.7 per cent drop on the 184 confirmed on Wednesday and is down on the 151 last Thursday. Sheffield Children’s Hospital said in a statement a child had died there earlier this week after testing positive for Covid-19.
The statement said: “Sadly on Monday June 15, a child passed away at Sheffield Children’s having been brought in to the hospital in a critical condition.
“Attempts at resuscitation were unsuccessful. The cause of death is not yet known. Tests have confirmed that the child had Covid-19, but it isn’t yet clear if it was a contributing factor.”
John Somers, chief executive of Sheffield Children’s Hospital, added: “Our sincere condolences go to the family.” Although doctors agree that Covid-19 poses a low risk to children, they have expressed alarm at a spike in cases of an illness resembling Kawasaki disease.
Symptoms include a sudden high temperature, rash, swollen hands and feet, dry and cracked lips and tongue and red, sore eyes. A study led by Imperial College London and published earlier this month revealed the condition to be distinct from Kawasaki disease.
Separate research at Birmingham and Southampton universities essentially confirmed the new syndrome is caused by Covid-19. Scientists found high levels of Covid-19 antibodies – evidence of previous infection – in the blood of those who had suffered from symptoms of the so-called “Kawasaki-like” disease.
This was despite the fact that the children had tested negative for the virus at the time. Last month, a 14-year-old boy with no underlying health conditions became the first British child to die from what is thought to be Kawasaki disease.
In April The Telegraph revealed how Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab’s death had provoked false online rumours on parenting websites that children would be separated from their parents in hospitals if they tested positive for Covid-19. The NHS has never had any such policy.
However, the rumours began after Ismail died without his parents, one of whom was themselves suffering with the disease.
It prompted senior paediatricians to appeal to parents to keep seeking medical care for their children, after data indicated a drop in consultations. Department of Health officials say the overall death toll now stands at 42,288, but the tally only includes lab-confirmed patients.