12-year-old Belgian girl becomes the youngest in Europe to die from coronavirus

The young age of the fatality ‘is a very rare occurrence,’ said a government spokesman, Dr. Emmanuel Andre, adding that her death ‘shook us’.

It was the first death of a child in the coronavirus crisis gripping Belgium, which has now recorded a total of 705 deaths from the disease it causes, according to the latest official toll.

Children have largely been spared death from the respiratory illness, with most of its fatal victims falling into the elderly category.

A patient suffering from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is treated at the intensive care unit at Erasme Hospital in Brussels, Belgium, March 30, 2020

Before the Belgian girl’s death, the youngest European to perish from the deadly illness was Vitor Godhino, a 14-year-old boy from Porto in Portugal.

He died in the early hours of Sunday after falling ill from the virus.

Before Vito, 16-year-old French schoolgirl Julie Alliot was reported as the youngest COVID-19 death in Europe.

She died at a hospital in Paris on 25 March.

Ms. Alliot had no underlying health conditions and was pronounced dead a week after developing ‘a slight cough’.

Her sister Manon said Julie was a ‘bright and much loved’ person, who ‘loved to dance, sing and make people laugh.’

Research in the journal Pediatrics found that of 2,100 children infected with COVID-19, only one died, a 14-year-old. The research found that less than six percent of children were seriously affected by the disease.

Tributes have been paid to Julie Alliot, 16, (pictured) who succumbed to respiratory problems in a Paris hospital after first developing a ‘slight cough’

A patient suffering from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is treated at the intensive care unit at Erasme Hospital in Brussels, Belgium yesterday

Belgium’s death toll from the novel coronavirus passed the 500 marks Monday, with almost 12,000 cases detected since the start of the epidemic.

Health authorities in the country of 11.4 million said 513 COVID-19 deaths had been recorded and 11,899 cases confirmed by laboratory tests.

But officials said the rise in admissions to hospital and to intensive care units had slowed slightly over the previous 24 hours.

‘We’re not at the peak, but at what we call the inflection point – that means the force of the epidemic is beginning to diminish thanks to the efforts we have all made over the last two weeks,’ said Emmanuel Andre, spokesman for government’s epidemic team.

‘It is extremely important to keep up these efforts – just because the curve is softening slightly today, it doesn’t mean it won’t get worse if we let up our efforts.’

On Friday, Belgium extended lockdown measures by two weeks to April 18 to slow the spread of the virus.

Schools, restaurants and most shops are closed, entry to supermarkets is restricted to allow room for social distancing and people have been told to work from home.

Outdoor sports activities and walks outside are still allowed, but only in small groups, with a friend or with family members living under the same roof.

Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes said the lockdown could be extended by another two weeks to May 3 if the spread of the virus demanded it.


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