A baby born to a mother infected with coronavirus has tested positive for the deadly virus just hours after its birth.
The child was born at a Wuhan hospital in Hubei, the epicentre of the virus where 549 of the 564 confirmed deaths have occurred, on Sunday.
Just 30 hours after birth, the newborn, whose gender wasn’t confirmed by authorities, tested positive for the virus.
The child is the youngest of 24,632 confirmed cases globally.
Worryingly, medical experts in China have said the case could be a mother-to-child transmission, China’s main press agency Xinhua confirmed, with experts concerned the virus was contracted inside the womb.
“We should be concerned about the possible new transmission route of the coronavirus,” Zeng Lingkong, a senior physician at the hospital’s neonatal department, said, according to the South China Morning Post.
Days earlier, Chinese state media released images of a baby girl’s birth inside a hospital in Harbin in the country’s northeast.
While the child was isolated for further observation, the hospital confirmed then the child had tested negative for the virus.
The revelation of the infant’s virus has prompted fears in China over its potential spread, with the National Health Commission also confirming digestive tract infections were another potential mode of transmission after traces of the coronavirus were discovered in patients’ faeces.
Hundreds of experts will meet in Geneva next Tuesday and Wednesday to set research and development priorities for coronavirus drugs, diagnostics and vaccines to combat the outbreak, the World Health Organisation confirmed.
"There are no proven effective therapeutics for novel coronavirus," Dr Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO emergencies programme, told a news conference.
The organisation’s epidemiologist Dr. Maria van Kerkhove said participants would include experts in clinical investigations and research into an animal source of the virus, which emerged at a market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.
Director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said a multinational WHO-led team would go to China very soon to work with Chinese authorities in tackling the outbreak.
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