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Newborn baby diagnosed with coronavirus

Published on 06/02/20 at 10:37am

A baby born this month in Wuhan China has been diagnosed with the coronavirus.

The child was born 2 February, weighed 3.25kg at birth (7Ibs 2oz), and is now in a stable condition and under observation. Medical experts in China say the disease could have been contracted in the womb. The baby’s mother tested positive for coronavirus before she gave birth.

Zeng Lingkong, Chief Physician of Wuhan Children Hospital neonatal medicine department, said: “This reminds us to pay attention to mother-to-child being a possible route of coronavirus transmission.”

Stephen Morse, an epidemiologist at the Mailman School of Public Health at Colombia University, speculated that the baby could have contracted the disease outside the womb. He said the baby could have been “inhaling virus droplets that came from the mother coughing.”

So far, it has not been common for the virus to infect children, which is similar to other coronavirus outbreaks like SARS and MERS. However, a six-month-old baby in Singapore tested positive for the disease, while an eight-year-old from Wuhan was diagnoses in Australia.

The coronavirus outbreak began on 12 December and the disease is thought to come from animal products. Currently known as 2019-nCoV, the virus is understood to be a new strain of coronavirus not previously identified in humans. It has been categorised as a global health emergency by the World Health Organisation.

This episode is reminiscent of the SARS epidemic in 2003 that spread to Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Canada; it killed 774 people and infected over 8,000. Chinese scientists reported that they had generated the genetic sequence of the new virus and it is a coronavirus that is in the same group as SARS and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus).

Conor Kavanagh

 

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