SINGAPORE, June 28 — Singapore yesterday (June 27) reported the first death of a Covid-19 patient below the age of 12.

In a news release, the Ministry of Health (MoH) said that the child is an 18-month-old Singaporean boy who died on Monday.

The cause of death is encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) due to Covid-19, respiratory syncytial virus and enterovirus infections.

MoH said that the patient had no other past medical history and “was previously well”.

The respiratory syncytial virus is a common virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. Those infected by the enterovirus, also a common virus, may have symptoms such as fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, skin rash, mouth blisters and body aches.

MoH added that the boy was taken to the emergency department for children at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) on the night of June 21. He had high fever and recurrent seizures, with a subsequent drop in consciousness.

He was admitted to the children’s intensive care unit in critical condition the next day, and was diagnosed with severe meningoencephalitis, a neurological condition where the brain and the layers of thin tissue that cover it are inflamed.

“The polymerase chain reaction test for the patient was positive for Covid-19 as well as two other viruses — rhinovirus or enterovirus and respiratory syncytial virus,” MoH added.

The ministry stressed that Covid-19 can result in severe disease, even in children and those without pre-existing medical conditions.

“Vaccination substantially reduces the likelihood of severe disease when one is infected.

“All children aged five to 11 years are recommended to be vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty) vaccine, especially children with underlying chronic medical conditions.”

MoH said that it will study — together with the Health Sciences Authority and the expert committee on Covid-19 vaccination — the safety and effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines that have been formulated for young children under the age of five “once the dossier is submitted to us for evaluation by the manufacturers”.

“MoH extends our deepest condolences to the patient’s family. We understand that KKH is in contact with the family to provide the necessary support.”

Separately, the ministry repeated a point made by Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong earlier that it will not be making changes to Singapore’s infection controls for Covid-19 at this point in time, despite a rise in Covid-19 cases driven by the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants of the Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus.

About 45 per cent of Covid-19 cases in the community were cases with BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants — up from 30 per cent the week before.

“BA.5 alone is estimated to have contributed to 40 per cent of all cases in the past week,” MOH said.

However, data here and overseas show that the two sub-variants “do not result in more severe outcomes” as compared to the earlier Omicron sub-variants, it added.

“Coupled with our population’s high vaccination coverage, the number of severe Covid-19 infections has remained manageable.” Wong said earlier in the day that the authorities will monitor the situation closely, “including the infection trajectory over the coming weeks, the severity, as well as the hospital situation”.

“And if need be, we will have to make adjustments,” he told reporters after witnessing the redeployment of mobile vaccination centres to the heartlands with Health Minister Ong Ye Kung. Both ministers are co-chairs of the national Covid-19 task force.

Yesterday, Singapore reported a total of 5,309 Covid-19 cases, 4,845 of which are domestic infections.

This brings the total number of cases here to 1,413,667.

There are now 1,409 total deaths from Covid-19 so far, including that of the 18-month-old toddler.

The week-on-week infection ratio is 1.56, up from 1.52 the previous day. ― TODAY