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A two-day-old baby has died of Covid-19 in South Africa

South African Health Minister Zweli Mkhize at a press conference on Covid-19 response in Pretoria in March. PROTERIA, March 10, 2020 (Xinhua) -- South African Health Minister Zweli Mkhize speaks at a press conference on COVID-19 in Proteria, South Africa, March 9, 2020. South African Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on Monday announced that four more South Africans have been tested positive for the COVID-19. (Xinhua) (Photo by Xinhua/Sipa USA)

A two-day-old baby has died of coronavirus-related condition in South Africa, the government said Thursday.

The baby was born preterm with lung difficulties and had to put on a ventilator, according to a statement from the health ministry.

“The mother had tested positive for COVID-19, and the child subsequently tested positive for COVID-19 as well. It is important to appreciate the complexities of the underlying condition of prematurity,” the statement read.

The baby is among the 27 coronavirus deaths announced Wednesday, bringing the total number to 339, according to the ministry.

With more than 18,000 cases, South Africa has the highest number of coronavirus patients on the continent.

Health minister Zweli Mkhize said he was devastated by the death of a health worker in the Western Cape province — the virus epicentre in South Africa — and paid tribute to professionals on the frontline of the country’s response to the outbreak.

The country imposed strict restrictions, including a five-week lockdown which ended April 30, to combat the spread of the disease.

As the country began easing restrictions in May, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa said the nation has adopted a five-level alert system to respond to the pandemic that will allow certain sectors of the economy to resume phased operations.

The government plans to reopen schools on June 1 and says the education department will roll out guidelines for the resumption.