ICU baby infected with COVID-19 by ‘another parent’

 

 

A cluster of new coronavirus cases has been linked to the neonatal intensive care unit at Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital where a newborn baby is fighting for life.

Two parents and one healthcare worker at the hospital are also infected, Victoria's Department of Health and Human Services says.

The newborn, believed to be just three weeks old, became infected when a parent of another baby entered the ward while carrying the infection. They were not believed to symptomatic at they visited.

There are fears the outbreak could spread further. Contact tracing has revealed seven additional patients, three parents and 17 RCH staff members could be infected with the virus and will be quarantined.

Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital. Picture: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images
Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital. Picture: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

 

The Department of Health will test all babies, staff and parents who have spent more than two hours at the Butterfly Ward since July 12.

"As investigations are undertaken throughout the day, these outbreak totals are likely to change as the public health team identify links between cases and identified outbreaks," DHHS said in a statement on Monday.

An update on the baby's condition is expected later today.

Anyone who visited the RCH is being urged to get tested if they display any symptoms associated with COVID-19.

An RCH emergency doctor told Today the outbreak is "extremely concerning". She said it is the latest in a number of infections linked to babies and toddlers.

"For us over the last couple of weeks, we have been very confronted by the number of young, very sick people that we are seeing with COVID and the increasing numbers of those," she said.

We know that children are not immune to coronavirus and that more than 200 children under the age of four have been infected in Victoria.

Paediatrician and Chief of Medicine at the Royal Children's Hospital, Associate Professor Tom Connell, told 3AW children can become infected, too.

"Children are susceptible to COVID-19," Prof Connell said.

"It's not just an adult disease. There's still a lot we don't know about it.

"The most important thing is to be alert, use your instincts when your child is not quite right … because it could be COVID-19."

Melbourne mum Nikki Boyle knows how serious the virus can be. She rushed her baby daughter Stevie to hospital on Wednesday after she started showing symptoms, including difficulty breathing.

"It was very scary because she's so young … it was really confronting … it's hard to hear that high-pitched, distressed baby scream," she told the Herald-Sun.

Nikki took her daughter to the same hospital the night before after becoming concerned when she noticed Stevie had symptoms including a runny nose, cough and difficulty breathing.

She was tested but discharged from the hospital at around 4am on Wednesday morning with doctors suspecting a regular infection.

A few hours later Nikki got a call saying her baby actually did have COVID-19.

Victoria recorded 532 new cases on Monday, making it the state's worst day of the pandemic.

The previous highest number was 484 last Wednesday.

 

There are four cases linked to the hospital. Picture: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images
There are four cases linked to the hospital. Picture: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

 

Victoria also recorded six deaths, five of them connected to outbreaks in aged care.

The deaths were a female in her 90s, a female in her 80s, a man in his 80s, a female in her 70s, a male in his 70s, and a male in his 50s.

Premier Daniel Andrews said there was now 4542 total active cases in the state, with 683 connected to aged care.

He said there was now 245 people in hospital in Victoria with COVID-19, including 44 in intensive care.

Mr Andrews said lockdown would not end and cases would continue to rise if Victorians did not stop going to work with symptoms.

"This is what is driving these numbers up and the lockdown will not end until people stop going to work with symptoms and instead go and get tested because they have symptoms," he said.

"It's not a matter of blame, it's not a matter of judgment, these are the facts and unless we see a change, then we're going to continue to see these numbers at unacceptably high levels. So, please, do something that will we will all be so grateful for - act on your symptoms.

With Stephanie Bedo

Originally published as ICU baby infected by 'another parent'



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