Coronavirus: Doctors fear pregnant women can pass on illness after newborn baby is diagnosed

Tom Gillespie, news reporter

Doctors fear pregnant women with coronavirus may be able to pass it on to their unborn children, after a baby was diagnosed with the illness just 30 hours after its birth.

A mother with the deadly virus gave birth to the child at the Wuhan Children Hospital in Hubei province on 2 February, China's state broadcaster CCTV reported.

The newborn was given a test 30 hours later and was confirmed to have coronavirus, doctors said.

Wuhan city is the epicentre of the outbreak that has killed 492 people in China and another person in the Philippines.

There have been more than 24,500 laboratory-confirmed cases of the virus, with 28 cases confirmed in Europe, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has said.

:: Coronavirus crisis: Airline asks staff to take unpaid leave for three weeks
:: Britons quarantined on coronavirus ship reveal situation 'changed dramatically overnight'
:: 'Significant breakthrough' in race for vaccine made by UK scientists

The newborn has stable vital signs and no fever or cough but has been experiencing shortness of breath, doctors said.

Chest X-rays showed signs of infection and there were some abnormalities in liver functions.

Zeng Lingkong, chief physician of Wuhan Children Hospital's neonatal medicine department, said: "This reminds us to pay attention to mother-to-child being a possible route of coronavirus transmission."

The hospital also disclosed details of a second case involving an infant who was born healthy on 13 January.

:: Listen to the Daily podcast on Apple Podcasts , Google Podcasts , Spotify , Spreaker

The baby's nanny was later diagnosed with the virus and the mother days later.

The baby started showing symptoms on 29 January.

Mr Lingkong added: "Whether it was the baby's nanny who passed to the virus to the mother who passed it to the baby, we cannot be sure at the moment.

"But we can confirm that the baby was in close contact with patients infected with the new coronavirus, which says newborns can also be infected."

He added that neither of the infected infants are in a critical condition.

Singapore has confirmed a six-month-old baby is among the 28 cases of the virus confirmed on the island.

Both of the child's parents also have the virus, the ministry said.