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Coronavirus: Girl, 3, dies of COVID-19 and becomes Belgium's youngest-known victim

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Belgian PM Sophie Wilmes gestures during a news conference after a meeting of the National Security Council to discuss lockdown measures in Brussels. July 23, 2020.
Belgian PM Sophie Wilmes gestures during a news conference after a meeting of the National Security Council to discuss lockdown measures in Brussels. July 23, 2020.   -   Copyright  Dirk Waem/AP
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A three-year-old girl has died from COVID-19 in Belgium, health authorities in the country announced on Friday.

The child, who had underlying health conditions, passed away several days ago, they added.

She is the youngest-known victim of the disease in Belgium.

"This news touches all of us deeply, whether that's as a scientist or as a parent," said Boudewijn Catry, a spokesman for the country's health authority, which has been dealing with a recent upsurge in cases.

"On average, three people die each day, including recently an 18-year-old," he said at a press conference, adding that deaths among young people were "rare".

A 12-year-old child died from the virus last March in Belgium.

The recent increase in infections has seen the total number of COVID-19 cases climb to 64,847. There have been 9,812 deaths from the disease.

The number of new cases in the period from July 14-20 went up by 89% compared to the previous week. An increase in infections has been reported in all provinces, with the exception of Walloon Brabant.

In the last week, an average of 220.6 new cases were diagnosed per day.

The increase has been observed in all age groups but is more pronounced in the working population (under 60 years) — this category represents 85% of all cases diagnosed in the last week, according to the health authorities.

In response to the upsurge, Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès has announced a tightening of protective measures: the wearing of masks is now compulsory in "any place with a lot of people", such as at markets, flea markets, on shopping streets, as well as in hotels, restaurants and cafés.

Face coverings have been compulsory in Belgium since July 11 in public transport, shops, cinemas, places of worship, museums and libraries.

"Heavily frequented" areas where the wearing of a mask will not have to be worn will be decided upon by local authorities.

Belgium is one of the countries with the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in relation to its population.

The Belgian authorities' tally of coronavirus deaths is one of the most exhaustive in the world since it includes deaths possibly linked to the virus without being proven by a test.