By Marine Strauss

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – A 12-year-old girl died in Belgium of the coronavirus, a spokesman for the health ministry said on Tuesday, and local media reported she was Europe’s youngest victim of the disease.

“It is a rare event but one that devastates us,” virologist Emmanuel Andre told Belgium’s official daily news conference on the spread of disease.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), an EU agency, has also recorded deaths in the age range of 10-19 years old in Spain but did not provide details.

While the COVID-19 respiratory disease caused by the virus has affected the elderly more, the girl’s condition deteriorated after three days of fever, Belgian officials said.

The officials did not provide details on whether or not she had any previous medical conditions at the time.

Overall, Belgium’s death toll rose by 98 to a total of 705 people on Tuesday. The country reported 876 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of confirmed infections to 12,775.

Some 4,920 people were hospitalized, meaning around a half of the medical services’ capacity was taken up by the coronavirus. Belgium expects the spread of the virus to peak in the coming days and weeks.

(Reporting by Marine Strauss; Editing by Mike Collett-White)