The head of the KwaZulu-Natal Health Department Dr Sandile Tshabalala says they are awaiting reports from clinical staff before issuing a report on the death of a five-month old baby who allegedly succumbed to COVID-19.
The child, who died on Monday, was admitted to hospital with TB.
Tshabalala says the department is investigating the death.
“As the Department of Health we have heard of the alleged death of a child because of a COVID-19 infection, or a COVID-19 related complication. Having heard that, we are going to investigate the case, issue a proper statement after the clinicians have given us a report. We are saying this because it is very rare for a child to die because of a COVID-19 virus. All we can say for now is may the child’s soul rest in peace and may the family be comforted by the grace of God.”
Infographic: latest COVID-19 statistics in South Africa:
In May, the National Health Department revealed that 755 children under the age of nine had contracted COVID-19.
The United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says while children are not the face of the pandemic, they risk being among its biggest victims.
“While they have thankfully been largely spared from the direct health effects of COVID-19 at least to date – the crisis is having a profound effect on their well-being. All children, of all ages, and in all countries, are being affected, in particular by the socio-economic impacts and, in some cases, by mitigation measures that may inadvertently do more harm than good,” the organisation wrote on its website.
It warns that the harmful effects of this pandemic could be most damaging for children in the poorest countries, and in the poorest neighbourhoods, and for those in already disadvantaged or vulnerable situations.
It says 1.2 million more children under-five deaths could die occur in just six months due to reductions in routine health service coverage levels and an increase in child wasting.
The ongoing crisis could increase the number of children living in monetary poor households by up to 106 million by the end of the 2020.