Toddler fights for her life as daily cases approach 5,000 mark

A 22-month-old girl is fighting for life after falling victim to a brain inflammation likely triggered by her Covid-19 infection.

The news came as the SAR yesterday logged 4,886 cases and five deaths.

The girl's three-year-old sister tested positive first on Wednesday and later that day, the toddler began falling ill. This prompted her family to rush her to Cheung Chau's St John Hospital, according to government adviser Lau Yu-lung.

Lau added that upon their arrival, a doctor recognized the danger inherent in the girl's condition as she had a high fever of 41.4 degrees Celsius and a heart rate of over 200 beats per minute.

The doctor immediately requested a helicopter to airlift the toddler to Chai Wan's Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital. She arrived there at around 9.30pm after more than two hours of convulsions and has since been injected with heart boosters and hooked up to an oxygen machine.

Lau, a pediatrics professor at the University of Hong Kong, said an imaging scan revealed the girl's brain had swelled up, adding "the takeaway message is that with Omicron, the BA.2 variant can cause neurological complications in children under three or four years old.

"This kid at 22 months has not been eligible for vaccination It's an unlucky and pitiful situation."

While the girl's parents sought help as quickly as they could, he said, they unfortunately live on an outlying island that prolonged the time it took for the child to receive medical attention.

Over the course of the fifth wave, Hong Kong has seen 19 cases of serious illness or death in children under two, Lau said, adding the Department of Health will host a meeting next week to discuss lowering the minimum age for Covid vaccinations.

He said: "It's dangerous that children under three are not vaccinated It's of utmost importance for those under two and above 80 to get jabbed."

Of yesterday's cases, 4,638 were locally transmitted while 248 were imported.

Among these were 409 cases reported by 315 schools.

Five people, three men and two women aged between 56 and 100, died on Wednesday, taking the fifth-wave death toll to 9,280.

Also, starting Monday, all who wish to visit a public hospital - including Covid recoverees - must present a negative polymerase chain reaction test result taken within 48 hours to be allowed in.

In Macau, three cases were recorded on Wednesday after zero infections on Tuesday. All three were found in close contacts who had already entered into quarantine, taking the city's tally for the current wave to 1,819. No new cases have been detected from the wider community for five days.