CAPETOWN, South Africa -- A 2-day-old baby who was born prematurely in South Africa has died from Covid-19, officials said Thursday.
The infant is believed to be the world's youngest coronavirus death. Word of the death came as global virus cases topped five million.
The mother had tested positive for Covid-19 and the baby subsequently tested positive as well, according to a statement from Dr. Zweli Mkhize, South Africa's health minister. It was the country's first virus-related neonatal mortality.
The pandemic has now killed more than 328,000 people worldwide.
Over five million people across the globe have been diagnosed with the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding the scope of their nations' outbreaks.
South Africa is the hardest-hit nation in Africa amid the coronavirus pandemic, with nearly 18.5% of the continent's diagnosed cases of Covid-19, according to data released Monday evening by the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So far, South Africa has reported over 18,000 diagnosed cases of the disease with at least 339 deaths.
More than 92,000 people across all of Africa have been diagnosed with Covid-19 and at least 2,912 have died, according to a count kept by the African CDC.
Since the first virus cases were detected in China in December, the United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than 1.5 million diagnosed cases and at least 93,439 deaths.
Just a day prior to the infant death in South Africa, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday had issued new guidelines that call for all newborns delivered to women with Covid-19 infections to be tested.
The CDC said babies are most likely exposed to the virus through respiratory droplets from their mom or from other caregivers or visitors. There are some limited reports that they may be exposed to the virus right before or even during labor, but the science on that is still unclear, the federal agency said.
Infants may also be at a higher risk for severe forms of the disease compared to older children, according to the CDC.