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S. Korea investigating potential first teen death from COVID-19

KCDC director Jung Eun-kyeong speaks during a press briefing on Wednesday. (KCDC)
KCDC director Jung Eun-kyeong speaks during a press briefing on Wednesday. (KCDC)

South Korea’s health authorities said Wednesday that they were looking into the death of a 17-year-old at a hospital in Daegu for a possible link to the novel coronavirus. If COVID-19 turns out to be a factor, it will mark the country’s first teen death from the disease.

The patient died of multiple organ failure at 11:15 a.m. at Yeungnam University Hospital in the city’s Nam-gu district, where he was receiving treatment for pneumonia.

The hospital’s official said the patient was admitted to hospital Friday at 6:13 p.m. and moved to the intensive care unit for ECMO treatment the next day at 2:27 p.m. when mechanical ventilation failed to help. He was given continuous renal replacement therapy from Monday.

The official added that he had no preexisting medical condition.

In a briefing held the same day, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said at least two of the COVID-19 tests conducted on the patient could be “interpreted as positive,” with several others coming out negative.

The hospital said the results of tests on additional samples collected before he died -- including blood, urine and liquid from the lower respiratory tract -- were still pending. The KCDC said postmortem samples would also be tested.

Health Ministry data as of Wednesday show that 213 of 8,413 confirmed patients in Korea are between 13 and 18 years of age.

By Kim Arin (arin@heraldcorp.com)
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