Virus puts ‘healthy’ 12-year-old in ICU

A 12-year-old girl with no pre-existing conditions is "fighting for her life" in hospital after becoming infected with the coronavirus.

The girl, Emma, was placed on a ventilator at Scottish Rite Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia on Saturday -- just one day after testing positive for COVID-19, the deadly pneumonia caused by the virus known as SARS-CoV-2.

But how she contracted the virus is a mystery. According to her cousin, Justin Anthony, Emma had not travelled recently or come into contact with anyone known to be infected.

Mr Anthony told CNN Emma was gravely ill despite having no pre-existing conditions that would place her in the high risk category for developing COVID-19.

He said the family decided to go public with her case to let people know the disease can impact some children as severely as it does the elderly.


The girl’s cousin Justin Anthony talks to reporters.
The girl’s cousin Justin Anthony talks to reporters.


"Kids can get it and I know one who's fighting for her life," Mr Anthony said in the days before her diagnosis.

Emma's parents rushed her to the hospital emergency department multiple times after she developed a fever that would not break. She was finally admitted to Scottish Rite on March 15 with suspected pneumonia.

Her condition continued to deteriorate and last Friday she tested positive for COVID-19. By Saturday she was on a ventilator, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.


Mr Anthony said Emma's mother was keeping vigil beside her daughter's hospital bed. Meanwhile, Emma's 13-year-old brother is home alone in self-isolation.

He said relatives were regularly checking up on the boy and bringing him food, but were not allowed to have physical contact with him.

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta-Scottish Rite Hospital confirmed that a patient has tested positive for the virus but provided no further details, CNN reported.

"The patient remains in isolation, and we have consistently used appropriate precautions," hospital spokeswoman Jessica Pope told the outlet.

Georgia has confirmed more than 600 cases as the virus has spread to at least 30,000 people across the country, according to figures from John Hopkins University but Emma is the first known adolescent to be placed on a ventilator.

Originally published as Virus puts 'healthy' 12-year-old in ICU