Coronavirus: Boy, 13, with 'no underlying health conditions' is UK's youngest victim

31 March 2020, 21:09

Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab died at King's College Hospital on Monday
Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab died at King's College Hospital on Monday. Picture: PA

By Megan White

A 13-year-old boy with no apparent underlying health conditions has become the youngest person to die in the UK after testing positive for Covid-19.

Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab from Brixton, south London, died in hospital in the early hours of Monday after contracting coronavirus.

The teen had tested positive for Covid-19 on Friday, a day after he was admitted to King's College Hospital, his family said.

Family friend Mark Stephenson said the boy's mother and six siblings are now awaiting the results of a post-mortem.

1,801 people have now died after contracting the virus in the UK, with all but 28 of the patients having had underlying health conditions.

The 28 who did not were aged between 19 and 91.

A spokesman for King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: "Sadly, a 13-year old boy who tested positive for Covid-19 has passed away, and our thoughts and condolences are with the family at this time.

"The death has been referred to the coroner and no further comment will be made."

Ismail's family said they were "beyond devastated" by his death, in a statement released through Mr Stephenson.

"Ismail started showing symptoms and had difficulties breathing and was admitted to King's College Hospital," the family said.

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"He was put on a ventilator and then put into an induced coma but sadly died yesterday morning.

“To our knowledge he had no underlying health conditions. We are beyond devastated."

Mr Stephenson, college director at the Madinah College where Ismail's sister works, has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for funeral costs.

The page says: "Sadly he died without any family members close by due to the highly infectious nature of Covid-19."

By Tuesday evening more than £28,000 had been raised, far exceeding the £4,000 target.

Dr Simon Clarke, associate professor in cellular microbiology at the University of Reading, said the first known death of a child in the UK following a positive test for Covid-19 was "particularly significant".

He said: "The lesson from countries such as China is that while the old are much more likely to die from coronavirus infection, the young are certainly not immune from it."

He said while advice had so far focused on how the public can save the life of an older relative by following social distancing rules, this case could be a reminder that other lives can be saved too.

He said: "The message so far has seemed to be that by following the guidance, you might save the life of a cherished parent or grandparent.

"This case could yet remind us that staying home could also save the life of a cherished child or grandchild too."

Confirmation of Ismail's death came just a few hours after England's deputy chief medical officer, Jenny Harries, said fatalities in young people highlighted the need for everyone to follow the public health advice.