A 3-week-old baby has died from COVID-19 in Qatar, the country’s Ministry of Public Health said in a statement Sunday, another fatality in a string of rare infant deaths around the globe from the disease.
The baby had no other known medical or hereditary conditions, the ministry said and was the second child in the country to have died from the disease during the pandemic.
“This a stark reminder that people of all ages are at risk of being infected by COVID-19,” the authorities said in the statement, adding that during the country’s current wave, a greater number of children were being infected and requiring medical care.
“This is not because omicron is more severe for children than previous variants; it is because omicron is more contagious and infecting higher numbers of people,” the statement said.
Among the 3.5 million global deaths from the coronavirus, just 0.4% of those have occurred in people under the age of 20, according to data from UNICEF. Less than half of those deaths were in children 9 years old or younger.
In the United States, the deaths of 259 children 4 years old or younger had been linked to COVID by early January, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But the omicron variant, extremely contagious and with the capacity to dodge vaccines, has also caused a surge in hospitalizations of young children, according to data from the CDC and a study published Friday in the British Medical Journal.
The rise may be partly explained by the surge of omicron cases, which affects all populations, and the spread of other respiratory infections.
But the data do not show a similarly steep rise in coronavirus infections among hospitalized children of other ages, and federal health officials were considering the possibility that omicron may not be as mild in young children as it is in older children.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.