SHANGHAI: Pregnant women infected with the new coronavirus may be able to pass it to their unborn child, doctors at the Wuhan Children Hospital said on Wednesday (Feb 5), according to state broadcaster CCTV.
The doctors said it was possible after an infected coronavirus patient gave birth to a baby on Feb 2. The newborn was given a test 30 hours later and confirmed to have the virus, they said.
Wuhan city is the epicentre of the outbreak that has since spread across China and overseas.
READ: World has 'window of opportunity' to halt virus spread: WHO chief
The newborn has stable vital signs and no fever or cough, but was experiencing shortness of breath, the doctors said. Chest x-rays showed signs of infection and there were some abnormalities in liver functions.
The hospital also disclosed details of a second case involving an infant who was born healthy on Jan 13. The baby's nanny was later diagnosed with the virus and the mother days later. The baby started showing symptoms on Jan 29.
"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," Zeng said.
However, he added that none of the infected infants were in critical condition.
The virus has killed nearly 500 people and infected more than 24,000 globally. The World Health Organization has declared the virus outbreak a global emergency.
The death toll in mainland China has soared to 490 and more than 20 countries have now confirmed cases of the virus.
The WHO said Tuesday that dramatic measures taken by China had provided a "window of opportunity" to halt transmission, while calling for more global solidarity to combat the virus.
The WHO has said the outbreak does not yet constitute a "pandemic".
The head of the organisation, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, accused wealthy countries of falling short on their duties in sharing data, stating that: "Of the 176 cases reported outside China so far, WHO has received complete case report forms for only 38 per cent."