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Coronavirus: Newborn becomes youngest person diagnosed with virus

In this file photograph taken on March 20, 2007, a two-week-old boy finds his feet in his new world. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The baby’s mother tested positive for the virus before she gave birth

A Chinese newborn has been diagnosed with the new coronavirus just 30 hours after birth, the youngest case recorded so far, state media said.

The baby was born on 2 February in a local hospital in Wuhan, the epicentre of the virus.

The baby’s mother tested positive before she gave birth. It is unclear how the disease was transmitted.

Only a handful of children have come down with the virus, which has killed 563 people and infected 28,018.

State media outlet Xinhua reported news of the infection late on Wednesday, adding the baby which weighed 3.25kg at birth was now in stable condition and has been put under observation.

A senior physician at the hospital’s neonatal department told news site SCMP that the case was a signal that “we should be concerned about the possible new transmission route of the virus”.

However, few children have tested positive in this recent outbreak, which is consistent with other coronavirus outbreaks in recent history including Sars and Mers.

A report by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) said the median age of patients for the current outbreak is between 49 and 56 years, adding that cases in children “have been rare”.

Similarly, during the Mers outbreak in 2016, the World Journal of Clinical Paediatrics said the virus was rare in children, though it added that the “reason for [this] low prevalence is not known”.

The virus has spread overseas, with 25 nations confirming a total of 191 cases, although there has so far been only two death outside mainland China.

The coronavirus causes severe acute respiratory infection and symptoms usually start with a fever, followed by a dry cough. Most people infected are likely to fully recover – just as they would from a flu.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak a global health emergency. Its chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, on Wednesday appealed for $675m (£520m) to fund a three-month response plan.

The vast majority of the funds would go to nations that need help to protect against the virus. Some 500,000 masks and 40,000 respirators would be sent to 24 countries.

In other developments on Thursday:

  • Ten more people on a quarantined ship docked in the Japanese port of Yokohama have tested positive for coronavirus bringing the total to 20. About 3,700 people on the ship are on lockdown after a previous passenger who disembarked in Hong Kong tested positive
  • Around 3,600 people onboard another cruise ship docked in Hong Kong have also been confined to the ship after three previous passengers were found to have the virus
  • Taiwan has banned all international cruise ships from docking at the island, says a Reuters report. It has also banned the entry of mainland residents.
  • A group of almost 350 Americans airlifted out from Wuhan have been placed under quarantine in two military bases in California
  • Car maker Tesla warned that the virus could delay deliveries within China of its Model 3 vehicle

Chinese officials say they have stepped up efforts to control the outbreak, particularly in Hubei province where Wuhan is located. Two hospitals have been speedily built and 11 public venues transformed into makeshift wards.

Millions in Hubei and Zhejiang provinces have been told only one person per household can go outside every two days.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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