A four-year-old girl has died in Quebec City after suffering complications from COVID-19.
The Université Laval hospital network, Centres hospitaliers universitaires de Québec-Université Laval, confirmed the death in a news release Monday afternoon.
It’s sharing no further details, citing patient confidentiality and respect for the family.
“This news is incredibly sad. I would like to offer my deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of this little girl,” said Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé on Twitter.
Despite the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, children’s fatalities remain extremely rare.
This is the first pediatric death linked to COVID-19 at the CHU de Québec-Université Laval since the start of the pandemic. A two-month-old baby died of COVID-19 at Montreal’s Sainte-Justine Hospital on Dec. 17.
While few children suffer serious complications due to COVID-19, physicians have said Omicron may hit some kids harder than adults.
“The biggest difference is that Omicron is much more respiratory, so kids are presenting with cold-like symptoms, where before it was fever and maybe some gastrointestinal in the earlier waves,” said Dr. Fatima Kakkar, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist at Sainte-Justine Hospital.
“Now we’re seeing kids, for example, with asthma. Their asthma is getting worse, and [that’s] bringing them into hospital.”
The four-year-old’s death comes as the situation in hospitals appears to be stabilizing in the Quebec City region, though medical services are still being cut back in the area to ensure enough staff are available to care for the influx of COVID-19 patients.