SINGAPORE — A one-and-a-half-year-old Singaporean boy infected with COVID-19 died on Monday (27 June), making him the youngest-ever fatality from the virus in Singapore.
The cause of his death was encephalitis – inflammation of the brain – due to the novel coronavirus as well as the respiratory syncytial virus and enterovirus, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a press statement. The latter two viruses are common in the general population.
The boy was the first COVID-19 patient aged below 12 to die from the virus here, MOH said, adding that he had no other past medical history and was previously well.
He had a high fever and recurrent seizures, with a subsequent drop in consciousness, when he was brought to KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) Children’s Emergency Department on the night of 21 June.
The boy was admitted to the children’s intensive care unit in critical condition the following day and was diagnosed with severe meningoencephalitis, or inflammation of the brain and its surrounding protective membranes.
He tested positive on a polymerase chain reaction test for COVID-19 and also for the rhinovirus/enterovirus and respiratory syncytial virus, MOH said.
"COVID-19 can result in severe disease, even in children and those without pre-existing medical conditions. Vaccination substantially reduces the likelihood of severe disease when one is infected," according to MOH.
All children aged 5 to 11, especially those with underlying chronic medical conditions, should be vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, MOH advised.
Along with the Health Sciences Authority and the expert committee on COVID-19 vaccination, MOH said it will study the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines that have been formulated for young children aged under five once manufacturers submit documents for evaluation.
"MOH extends our deepest condolences to the patient’s family. We understand that KKH is in contact with the family to provide the necessary support," it added.
Singapore reported 5,309 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, up from 5,116 a day before, according to MOH's website.
Its weekly COVID-19 infection growth rate also rose to 1.56 on Monday from 1.52 on Sunday.
The rate refers to the ratio of community cases for the past week over the week before, where a figure of more than one means that the number of new weekly cases is increasing.
To date, 1,413,667 COVID-19 cases have been recorded in Singapore, with 1,409 deaths due to the disease.
About 45 per cent of the COVID-19 cases in the community in the past week were cases with Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, up from 30 per cent the week before.
Singapore is expected to face its next wave of Omicron infections as early as July or August, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung early this month.
As of Sunday, 92 per cent of the city-state's total population had completed their full COVID-19 vaccine regimen, while 78 per cent had received their booster shots.
Stay in the know on-the-go: Join Yahoo Singapore's Telegram channel at http://t.me/YahooSingapore