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A new-born baby has become the youngest person in South Africa to succumb to COVID-19.

According to the health department, the two-day-old baby was born prematurely and therefore had “lung difficulties which required ventilation support immediately after birth”.

In his latest report on the pandemic released this Wednesday night, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said the mother had tested positive for COVID-19 and the child subsequently tested positive for the coronavirus as well.

“It is important to appreciate the complexities of the underlying condition of prematurity,” he said, without revealing the baby’s province.

“We extend a special word of comfort to the mother of this child and salute the neonatologists, nurses and all allied and technical personnel who had the difficult task of caring for the neonate to the end.”

The infant was among 27 coronavirus patients who died in the last 24 hours, bringing South Africa’s death toll to 339.

South Africa’s tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases now stands at 18 003, up by 803 cases within a day.

In the Free State, the confirmed cases have shot up by 12 cases in the last 24 hours, taking the province’s total to 180, with 118 recoveries and six deaths.

Globally, over five-million people have tested positive for COVID-19, while over 25 000 have lost their lives and just under two- million have recovered from the virus.

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