Death of child infected with Covid-19 ‘a rare case’

The death of a 18-month-old baby boy from encephalitis, or brain inflammation, after being infected with Covid-19 and two other viruses is extremely rare, doctors said.

The Health Ministry said in a statement on Monday that it was Singapore’s first Covid-19 death of a patient below the age of 12.

The cause of death was encephalitis due to Covid-19, respiratory syncytial virus and enterovirus infections, it said.

Respiratory syncytial virus is a common respiratory virus that may cause mild, cold-like symptoms.

“While most cases are mild, severe respiratory syncytial virus can cause bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lung) and pneumonia (infection of the lungs) in younger children,” said Assoc Prof Thoon Koh Cheng, a senior consultant, infectious disease service at the paediatrics department in KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.“In some rare cases, complications such as inflammation of the brain, spinal cord or heart may occur,” he added.

Dr Yeo Tong Hong, a senior consultant and the head of neurology service at KKH, said that encephalitis may initially present with flu-like symptoms such as fever, general lethargy or headache.

“Viruses are the most common cause of infectious encephalitis, and it has also been reported to occur as a complication of Covid-19 infection. However, this is rare,” he said. — The Straits Times/ANN

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