Five children under the age of 18 have died from the novel coronavirus in the UK, according to a new study released on Wednesday.

The study, carried out by the Paediatric Intensive Care Audit Network, found that 71 children aged between one and 17 were treated in pediatric intensive care units (PICUs) since March; 43 were boys and 23 girls.

The median age of the 71 children was nine, and 44 of them needed mechanical ventilation. Five of the children died, 63 survived and were discharged, while three remain in intensive care.

Liz Draper, the report’s co-principal investigator and professor of pediatric care at the University of Leicester, said: “It’s positive that the rate of Covid-19 in children is fairly low. While this infection is very severe, it’s relatively rare in children.

“It’s a very small proportion of children who get Covid-19 severely enough to need intensive care. Compared to adults, only small numbers of children get severe Covid-19. That should be reassuring for parents.”

The study also found that black and minority ethnic children were as disproportionately affected by coronavirus as their adult counterparts. 21 of the 71 children were white, but 16 had Asian backgrounds and 10 Black. The other children were listed as other or unknown.

“Given the geographical distribution of admissions, with the majority being cared for in London PICUs, and other units within major conurbations with large BAME populations, and the relatively small numbers of children affected, it is impossible to confirm whether or not certain ethnic groups of children are at greater risk of severe Covid-19 illness in the way that has been described in adults,” Draper said.

Sky News reported on Wednesday that a nine-month-old British baby was diagnosed with coronavirus on Monday, but is recovering.

Last Thursday, NHS England announced that a 13-day-old British baby with no underlying health conditions died from COVID-19. The baby is thought to be the UK’s youngest victim.

The coronavirus death toll in the UK has passed 43,000, health officials announced on Wednesday.

The total number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 has risen to 306,862, with 653 new cases over the past 24 hours.

The UK has the highest coronavirus death toll across Europe, and the third-highest in the world after the US and Brazil.

Since originating in China last December, the pandemic has claimed nearly 478,300 lives in 188 countries and regions.

More than 9.29 million cases have been reported worldwide, while over 4.66 million patients have recovered, according to figures compiled by the US’ Johns Hopkins University.

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