KEY POINTS

  • An 8-week-old baby in Australia with no underlying medical conditions died after testing positive for COVID-19
  • The deceased infant is the youngest known COVID-19 fatality in the state of New South Wales
  • The coroner is now working to determine if the virus contributed to the death

An 8-week-old baby in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW), who had no previous medical conditions, died of COVID-19 last month after testing positive for the virus.

The unnamed infant from the state's Hunter Valley region "sadly passed away" at a local hospital in December, a Hunter New England Health spokesperson told 7News.com.au.

The infant had no underlying health conditions before contracting COVID-19, The Newcastle Herald reported.

Due to the "uncertainties" over the child's death, the case has been referred to the coroner, the Hunter New England Health spokesperson said.

Dr. Kerry Chant, NSW's Chief Health Officer, has spoken to the family of the deceased child, who were reportedly keen to protect their privacy.

"You can imagine that this is one of the most difficult times a family could ever go through," the health chief said.

Forensic pathologists have been working alongside the coroner to determine if COVID-19 contributed to the child's death, according to Chant.

"Our priority will be that... the coroner will inform the family, the family will have the time to talk to the clinicians about the implications of the findings, and then we will release it publicly, given the significant interest in this case," the doctor explained.

The youngest coronavirus-related death in NSW before the Hunter Valley child’s death was a 3-year-old boy with a rare genetic disease who died in January after testing positive for the virus, a report by The Canberra Times said.

NSW's total COVID-19 deaths numbered 1,024 after the state reported 46 new fatalities Friday — a record daily high. Around 25,168 new cases were also reported that day.

The total number of deaths in the state will continue to rise, Chant warned.

"There is a significant lag between cases being identified to when we see them get hospitalized, and then also flow through tragically, a small number, into deaths," the health chief was quoted as saying in a separate 7News.com.au report.

The lag was expected to be two or three weeks, noted Chant.

However, there were "promising" signs that NSW was already past the worst of the outbreak, Professor Catherine Bennett, an epidemiologist in Deakin University in Victoria, was quoted as saying by the Australian Associated Press.

The number of cases is unlikely to drop rapidly, but the infections seem to have plateaued, Bennett claimed.

"It’s really complicated because of the changes to testing protocols, and availability of testing has been a problem. But all the indicators, while none of them are truly reliable and they’ve all shifted around, are looking good," the professor explained.

Australia has reported a total of 1,550,145 COVID-19 cases and 2,896 virus-related deaths, publicly available government data showed.

hospital-1802680_1920 Representation. New South Wales 46 COVID-19-related deaths Friday - a record daily high for the state. Photo: Pixabay