Coronavirus: Baby tests positive 30 hours after birth prompting fears infection can be transmitted in the womb
Two infants have tested positive for the virus so far, with a third being closely monitored
Officials in China have been left fearing that the deadly novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) could pass from mother to unborn child from the womb after a newborn baby was tested positive for the disease shortly after birth.
The news emerged from Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus which has now infected about 25,000 people worldwide, where the child was born to a mother who had previously tested positive for the disease before going into labor, according to the Daily Mail.
When medical professionals tested the infant 30 hours later, the result came back positive for the virus. The infant was then transferred to the Wuhan Children's Hospital, which has been designated by the Chinese government as the treatment center for all infected children.
The infant, now three-days-old, is said to be in a stable condition but is still being closely monitored, announced the hospital via a post on its official social media account.
"This reminds us to pay attention to a potential new transmission route of the coronavirus - vertical transmission from mothers to babies," said Dr Zeng Lingkong, the chief physician from the hospital's Department of Neonatal Medicine.
The infant is the second baby to test positive for the coronavirus at Wuhan Children's Hospital after another one tested positive for it late last month. However, in that case, it is still unclear if the infant contracted the disease from its mother or an external source.
The baby was born healthy on January 13, following which its family hired a wet nurse to take care of it on January 22. The nurse was diagnosed with coronavirus shortly after, and the baby's mother also tested positive on January 26.
On January 29, the baby started to develop a cough and fever, and a series of medical tests confirmed doctors' worst fears. But the sequence of events means they are still unsure who transmitted the disease to whom.
Officials are also monitoring a third infant who was delivered at the hospital last week by doctors and nurses wearing hazmat suits and goggles.
The possibility that the coronavirus could transmit between mother and unborn child has come after it was revealed that it was detected in the loose stool of the first patient identified in the US, a finding that had not been reported previously among cases emerging from China.
Current estimates released by China's National Health Commission show that 490 people have died and another 24,324 have been infected in the country from the virus so far. Furthermore, there are 23,260 suspected cases and 3,219 patients in serious condition.
"So far, 252,154 people have been identified as having had close contact with infected patients. 185,555 are now under medical observation. On February 4, 18,457 people were freed from observation," the commission said.
Experts, however, fear that the number could be much higher than what is being officially reported, with some estimates suggesting the virus could have already infected close to 76,000 people in Wuhan alone.