A baby has been diagnosed with novel coronavirus in China’s Wuhan city merely 30 hours after being born. According to media reports, the newborn is the youngest person to be diagnosed with the disease. The mother of the baby was diagnosed with coronavirus before she gave birth to the child.
Doctors at the Wuhan Children Hospital said pregnant women infected with coronavirus might be able to pass it to their unborn children. “This reminds us to pay attention to mother-to-child being a possible route of coronavirus transmission,” Zeng Lingkong chief physician of Wuhan Children Hospital’s neonatal medicine department said.
Lingkong added that pregnant women should stay away from infected patients. The baby, weighing 3.25 kg at birth, is now in stable condition and under observation. About 260 cases have been reported in 31 other countries and regions outside China, according to a Reuters tally based on official statements from the authorities involved.
The pneumonia-like illness — which has been compared with SARS, another type of coronavirus that killed hundreds of people in China in the early 2000s — has been spreading from person to person since it was first discovered in Wuhan in December. Experts believe the most vulnerable patients are older people with weaker immune systems.
The death toll from the coronavirus in mainland China crossed 560 on Thursday as experts intensified efforts to find a vaccine for a disease that has shut down Chinese cities and forced thousands more into quarantine around the world.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday that experts would meet in Geneva from Feb 11-12 to set research and development priorities for coronavirus drugs, diagnostics, and vaccines to combat the outbreak.
“For a respiratory virus, it would be pretty unusual,” Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s Center for the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said of the possibility of in-utero transmission during a briefing on Wednesday. “This is the first such report that we’ve seen.”
In the weeks between December 31, when the outbreak was first reported, and January 22, no cases were recorded in children below 15 years of age. A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggested that “children might be less likely to become infected or, if infected, may show milder symptoms” than adults.
A few one-off cases of the virus have been reported among children in the last two weeks. However, on January 26, a 9-month-old girl was diagnosed in Beijing, then a child in Germany whose father was diagnosed with the coronavirus tested positive on January 31.
On Tuesday, health officials in China’s Guizhou province reported that a 1-month-old infant had been diagnosed with the virus there.
Chinese authorities claim they have stepped up efforts to control the outbreak, particularly in Hubei province where Wuhan is located. Two hospitals have been speedily built and 11 public venues transformed into makeshift wards.