Newborn baby in Qatar dies from COVID-19

TORONTO — A three-week-old infant in Qatar has died from a “severe” case of COVID-19, the country’s Ministry of Public Health announced in a statement published on Twitter.

“The Ministry of Public Health confirms that a 3-week-old baby has sadly died as a result of severe infection from COVID-19. The baby had no other known medical or hereditary conditions,” the statement, issued Sunday, said.

“[This] is only the second child to have died from COVID-19 in Qatar since the start of the pandemic.”

The ministry went on to note that while children are less at risk of severe illness compared to older adults, “a greater number of children are being infected in this current wave and needing medical care than in previous waves.”

The small country of 2.88 million people located in the Persian Gulf has recorded a total of 299,242 COVID-19 cases and 626 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to CTVNews.ca’s global case tracker.

Like health authorities in Canada and elsewhere, the Qatari ministry urged the public to get vaccinated as soon as possible, including those who are pregnant, but did not specify whether the baby’s mother was vaccinated or not.

Last month, an infant who was less than two months old and had no pre-existing health issues died from the disease at a hospital in Montreal.

And a rise in infant hospitalizations due to COVID-19 prompted a group of Ontario hospitals to issue a statement in early January encouraging those who were pregnant to get vaccinated. Vaccination during pregnancy allows antibodies to transfer to the baby at birth. Baby immune systems have trouble fighting disease without those maternal antibodies, Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, McMaster Children’s Hospital, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and Kingston Health Sciences Centre said in a joint statement.

Those eligible and living in the same household as someone pregnant were also encouraged to get the shot and exercise the necessary public health precautions.

Newborns have small airways that are easily blocked, a well-known risk among pediatricians, according to Dr. Jesse Papenburg, a Montreal pediatric epidemiologist.

A new study published last week looking at a database of more than 145,000 pregnancies in Scotland between December 2020 and October 2021 found that 77.4 per cent of those who got COVID-19 while pregnant were unvaccinated. This group also made up 90.9 per cent of COVID-19 related hospital admissions and 98 per cent of admissions to the intensive care unit, according to the study, which also found 11 stillbirths and eight newborn deaths, all of which involved parents who were unvaccinated.

With files from CTVNews.ca writer Tom Yun, CTV News Montreal Cindy Sherwin and Selena Ross, The Canadian Press.

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