A Wuhan hospital’s youngest patients are being kept in quarantine while their mothers are evaluated for potential coronavirus, the illness that’s sickened 40,600 people worldwide and killed at least 908.
Three babies, who were born at the same hospital where another infant was diagnosed with the illness just 30 hours after birth, are currently isolated in the pediatric intensive care unit away from the ward’s 31 other infants, AsiaWire reported.
Tongji Hospital said the newborns’ mothers have either tested positive for coronavirus or are highly suspected of having it. The three newborns are stable, Dr. Chen Ling, the hospital’s head of pediatrics, told AsiaWire. He said the babies will remain in quarantine for 14 days while they are monitored for potential symptoms.
The baby who diagnosed with the virus shortly after birth is also still in isolation at the hospital.
Concerns about mother-to-fetal transmission of the virus were raised after the infant, who was born via caesarian section at 40 weeks gestation, was diagnosed after birth.
“We need to be very careful when looking at the statistics,” Chen said, according to AsiaWire. “We cannot confirm that the infection happened in the womb, but we will continue to collect data in order to verify.”
The outbreak’s death toll has now surpassed that of the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak, which claimed more than 700 lives. The majority of coronavirus cases have been diagnosed in mainland China, but Hong Kong and the Philippines have each reported one death each.
Wuhan, which is considered the epicenter of the outbreak, has been struggling with a lack of medical supplies and overwhelmed medical facilities. China ordered a 1,000-bed hospital to help house some of the patients which opened to the public last week. On the ground, however, residents have expressed frustration at the lack of instruction about where to go for testing or medical care.
The city has been on lockdown since Jan. 23, leaving the city of 11 million largely cut off from outside help.