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2-year-old boy dies from COVID-induced encephalitis in northern Taiwan

Keelung boy died from acute encephalitis, multiple organ failure after COVID infection

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Entrance to Keelung Hospital. (Google Maps image)

Entrance to Keelung Hospital. (Google Maps image)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A two-year-old boy from Keelung died on Saturday (May 14) from complications after contracting COVID, including encephalitis and multiple organ failure.

The boy, surnamed Lin (林), had just turned two last month. At a press conference on Sunday, Philip Lo (羅一鈞), deputy head of the Central Epidemic Command Center's (CECC) medical response division, said that the child had come in contact with a caregiver who was confirmed with COVID.

After he tested positive on a rapid antigen test, the boy's family members took him to the emergency room at Keelung Hospital on Thursday (May 12). Initially, his body temperature was normal, he underwent a PCR test, and was allowed to return home.

However, on Friday (May 13) the test result came back positive with a Ct value of 18, and he began to suffer from fever, convulsions, and poor mobility. Paramedics rushed the boy by ambulance to Keelung Hospital, where he arrived at 7:43 p.m.

At the time, he was suffering from a high fever of 42.4 degrees Celsius, shortness of breath, rapid pulse, and suspected viral encephalitis. In a search for an available bed in a pediatric intensive care unit (ICU), the health department contacted Keelung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Taipei Tri-Service General Hospital, Mackay Memorial Hospital, and National Taiwan University Hospital, but none had openings.

Finally, Taipei Veterans General Hospital was found to have an available bed. At 11:56 p.m., arrangements were made for a nurse to accompany the boy in an ambulance that would transport him to Taiwan Veterans General Hospital as his condition had become critical.

During his transit, the child was given medication and antibiotics. He arrived at the hospital at 2 a.m. on Saturday (May 14), when he was intubated.

However, his condition deteriorated, efforts to resuscitate him failed, and he was declared dead at 8 a.m. The child's death certificate stated that he had died from a COVID infection which had been exacerbated by acute encephalitis and multiple organ failure, according to Lo.

Lo said that the boy's death has not yet been included in the CECC's official death toll. He said that after the gathering of information on the case has been completed and the official medical certificate has been received, the case will be listed as a death from a severe infection.

Lo emphasized that the hospital emergency department had properly handled the boy's case and there was no delay in treatment. He said that the pediatric critical care unit is in continuous operation and there are six dedicated beds in pediatric ICU's for children with COVID in northern Taiwan.

Nevertheless, Lo said that the CECC will discuss with health departments ways to expedite the transfer process. Lo added that the number of dedicated wards for COVID treatment is closely monitored every day.