WUHAN, Hubei — At 30-hours old, an infant in Wuhan, China became the youngest person to contract the new, fast-spreading coronavirus, according to China's state-run newspaper, People's Daily and the state-run news site XihuaNet.
Doctors said the newborn's mother had tested positive for the illness before giving birth on Feb. 2, raising the possibility the infection could be spread from mother to infant in the womb, Business Insider reported.
The People's Daily China newspaper shared a photo on Twitter that reportedly showed the infant in an incubator at the Wuhan children's hospital.
This case raised the possibility that the virus, which has killed more than 500 people, could go from person to person while a child is in the womb, during childbirth or through breast milk.
The Associated Press reported that as of Wednesday, China said deaths from the new coronavirus went up by 73 to 563. The number of confirmed cases jumped by 3,694 to 28,018.
"We should be concerned about the possible new transmission route of the coronavirus," Zeng Lingkong, a senior physician at the Wuhan children's hospital's neonatal department, told the South China Morning Post. He added that pregnant people should stay away from people with the coronavirus.
However, one expert told Business Insider said it's more likely the infant got sick after birth. Stephen Morse, an epidemiologist at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, told Business Insider that the in-utero transmission was not likely.
"It's quite possible that the baby picked it up very conventionally — by inhaling virus droplets that came from the mother coughing," Morse told Business Insider.
Zeng Lingkong, director of neonatal diseases at Wuhan Children’s Hospital said during an interview with state broadcaster CCTV that other mothers gave birth to babies who tested negative, so it's still unclear if the virus can be transmitted in the womb.
Doctors said the baby's vital signs were stable, and it had no fever or cough but was experiencing shortness of breath, Reuters reported citing state broadcaster CCTV.
The Wuhan Children’s Hospital has set aside an area to treat pregnant women with suspected symptoms, the South China Morning Post reported, citing CCTV.