Coronavirus: Newborn baby tests positive for illness at London hospital

Mother sent to specialist centre as child treated in isolation room and staff told to self-isolate

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Saturday 14 March 2020 13:56
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'60 per cent' of public need to contract coronavirus for herd immunity to take effect

A baby has tested positive for coronavirus shortly after being born at a London hospital, becoming one of the world’s youngest patients.

The child’s mother was tested for the illness before giving birth at North Middlesex Hospital, in Edmonton, but the result was not confirmed until after she had her child.

The Sun reported that the infant was tested within minutes of being delivered, and doctors are working to establish whether it was infected during birth or while in the womb.

The mother, who was originally being treated for suspected pneumonia, has been moved to a different hospital for specialist treatment.

A spokesperson for North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust told The Independent: “Two patients at North Middlesex University Hospital have tested positive for coronavirus.

“One has been transferred to a specialist centre and one is being treated in an isolation room.

“The safety of our patients and staff is our top priority, so in following guidance from Public Health England, we are regularly deep cleaning the areas where the patients are cared for and staff who were in close contact with these patients were advised to self-isolate.”

London has the most confirmed cases of coronavirus of any region in the UK, with Kensington and Chelsea currently the country’s second-worst affected local authority.

The London borough of Enfield, where North Middlesex Hospital is situated, had only recorded two cases by Friday morning.

The NHS website says that because the current coronavirus pandemic is a new illness, doctors do not yet know how exactly it spreads from person to person.

Advice released by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says that pregnant women are more vulnerable to catching infections, but “do not appear to be more severely unwell if they develop coronavirus than the general population”.

“It is expected the large majority of pregnant women will experience only mild or moderate cold/flu like symptoms,” the body stated.

“More severe symptoms such as pneumonia appear to be more common in older people, those with weakened immune systems or long-term conditions. There are no reported deaths of pregnant women from coronavirus at the moment.”

The World Health Organisation has repeated calls for all countries to find and test every coronavirus case after the British government claimed the practice was “no longer necessary”.

Announcing the next stage of the UK’s strategy, the chief medical officer for England said only hospital patients would now be formally checked for the virus.

Coronavirus: Can herd immunity help the UK battle the outbreak?

“We will move from having testing mainly done in homes and outpatients and walk-in centres, to a situation where people who are remaining at home do not need testing,“ Professor Chris Whitty added.

The plan puts Britain at odds with international advice issued by WHO, which repeated appeals for efforts to track and trace coronavirus on Friday.

Addressing a press briefing, director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “You can’t fight a virus if you don’t know where it is. Find, isolate, test and treat every case, to break the chains of transmission.

“Every case we find and treat limits the expansion of the disease.”

Amid criticism of the British government’s response, parliament’s Home Affairs Committee launched an inquiry into the preparedness of police and the Border Force.

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