A 12-year-old Belgian girl has become the youngest known person in Europe to die after contracting coronavirus.
Authorities in Belgium said the child was by far the youngest among the country’s more than 700 victims.
National crisis centre spokesman Emmanuel Andre said it is “an emotionally difficult moment, because it involves a child, and it has also upset the medical and scientific community”.
He added: “We are thinking of her family and friends. It is an event that is very rare, but one which upsets us greatly.”
It is not yet known if the girl had underlying health conditions.
Mr Andre said 98 people had died with the infection over the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 705 in a country of around 11.5 million people.
More than 12,705 cases have been confirmed so far in Belgium.
He said that Belgian authorities expect the spread of the disease to reach its peak in the next few days.
“We will arrive at a point where we’re close to saturation point at our hospitals,” he said.
Before the 12-year-old girl’s death, the youngest person in Europe to die after contracting the highly contagious respiratory infection was believed to be Vitor Godhino, a 14-year-old boy from Porto in Portugal.
In the UK, the youngest person to die was an 18-year-old who had serious underlying health issues.
On Tuesday, Spain recorded the 849 new coronavirus deaths – the highest number since the pandemic hit the southern European country.
That brings the total number of fatalities in Spain from 7,340 to 8,189 – although the percentage rise is slightly down on Monday.
The number of confirmed cases in Spain stands at 94,417 – up 9,222 from 85,195.
The new deaths in Spain take the worldwide total past 38,000, and the new cases nudge that global figure close to 800,000.
The World Health Organisation warned that while attention has shifted to epicentres in western Europe and North America, COVID-19 epidemics are “far from over” in Asia and the Pacific.
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