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3-year-old dies of coronavirus in Belgium amid surge in cases

3-year-old dies of coronavirus in Belgium amid surge in cases

Health authorities in Belgium on Friday said that a 3-year-old girl has died after testing positive for coronavirus. She is believed to be the youngest person to die from COVID-19 complications in the nation as cases continue to surge in the country.

The girl suffered from several severe associated diseases, according to a statement. Authorities say she is the youngest known victim of the disease after a 12-year-old died in March.

“This news touches all of us deeply, whether that's as a scientist or as a parent," said Boudewijn Catry, a spokesman for the country's health authority.

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Catry, speaking during a press conference, said the child’s death is a “wake-up call.”

“The fact that young people die of the coronavirus is rather rare, but it must be clear that no one is immune. No one can afford to ignore COVID-19,” he said, according to The Brussels Times.

Belgium has been hit hard by the virus, with 64,847 confirmed cases and 9,812 deaths, according to a database from Johns Hopkins University. 

There has been an upswing in the average infection rate within the last two weeks and the number of new infections went up 89 percent from the previous week from July 14-20.

News of the child’s death came just one day after Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès announced new measures to stem the spread of the virus, including a mandate for the wider use of face masks and a requirement that bars and restaurants keep contact details of customers.

Belgians will have to wear a mask in public, including at outdoor markets, shopping streets and other crowded sites under the new guidelines. 

Wilmès described the spike in cases as “not abnormal” but said they should “stay under control.”

“The latest figures should not throw us into panic but have to be taken seriously,” Wilmès said during a Thursday press conference.