People line up to take a COVID-19 test at a testing center in Gwangju on Tuesday. (Yonhap)
South Korea on Tuesday announced its second child death from COVID-19.
Sources familiar with the matter told The Korea Herald that the 6-year-old boy was rushed to a hospital emergency room Saturday because of “continued fever and breathing difficulties.”
The sources said the boy, who had a “brain-related condition,” developed a fever of 37.8 degrees Celsius on Nov. 25 before testing positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 2.
For the first two days since his diagnosis he was isolated at home, with the consent of his guardians, the sources said.
He was placed on a respirator the day he was admitted on Saturday. The next day his guardians gave their consent to a do-not-resuscitate order. He died at 12:26 a.m. Monday. The immediate cause of death was acute respiratory distress syndrome.
Pediatric infectious disease specialist Dr. Eun Byung-wook of Nowon Eulji University Hospital said although children with brain disorders did not always develop severe symptoms from COVID-19, hospital care was generally recommended.
Eun said that even in healthy children, if a fever does not improve for two days or more, seeking medical attention was advised.
He added that vaccination was “highly recommended” for people living with clinically vulnerable children who are too young for COVID-19 shots. “In a sense to create a safety bubble,” he said. In Korea, children 12 and older are eligible for vaccination against COVID-19.
In announcing the death in a closed-door briefing at 2:10 p.m., the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said the child died while receiving hospital treatment.
In a phone call with The Korea Herald later the same day, an agency official said it was not known at the time of the briefing if the child had been in home isolation initially. The official could not reply immediately when asked whether prescribing home recovery for children at risk of severe COVID-19 was permitted.
Korea’s first child known to have died of COVID-19 was a 5-year-old girl with a chronic neurological condition. She was pronounced dead on arrival at a Gyeonggi Province hospital on Nov. 28 and tested positive postmortem.
By Kim Arin (firstname.lastname@example.org