A two-day-old baby has become South Africa’s first neonatal Covid-19 fatality, health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said on Wednesday night.
The child is believed to have contracted the virus from its mother. The infant was born prematurely and reportedly needed a ventilator directly after birth, due to having lung difficulties.
Mkhize said that the child was one of 27 new Covid-19 deaths recorded in the last 24 hours. The country’s death toll now stands at 339, and the number of confirmed cases has climbed to 18,003.
“Sadly we have recorded the first neonatal mortality related to Covid-19. This was a two-day-old baby that was born prematurely and therefore had lung difficulties, which required ventilation support immediately after birth,” said Mkhize.
“The mother had tested positive for Covid-19 and the child subsequently tested positive for Covid-19 as well. It is important to appreciate the complexities of the underlying condition of prematurity.
“We extend a special word of comfort to the mother of this child and salute the neonatologists, nurses and all allied and technical personnel who had the difficult task of caring for the neonate to the end.”
He also confirmed the death of a healthcare worker in the Western Cape from Covid-19.
“When Covid-19 claims the lives of the very people who are the bedrock of the national response, we feel the loss in so many ways. I want to send a special tribute to the healthcare workers who continue to serve with honour and compassion, despite the real risks they face in the frontline.
“My heart goes out to the family, colleagues and loved ones of this compatriot. We salute her for the contribution she has made to the fight against Covid-19.”
In terms of the number of cases, the Western Cape was still the country’s epicentre, with 11,262 cases – followed by Gauteng with 2,400 and the Eastern Cape with 2,215.