Fourteen newborn babies in a postpartum care center in Shenyang, Northeast China's Liaoning Province, were reportedly diagnosed with pneumonia recently, with some still receiving treatment in intensive care unit.
The market watchdog of Huanggu district of Shenyang, where the care center named Xinxiangyueshiguang is located, confirmed on Saturday some babies in the center were infected with pneumonia, and that the center has since been closed.
The Shenyang Center for Disease Control and Prevention said that the newborns were infected with a respiratory syncytial virus, the Beijing News reported. How they got infected of the pneumonia has not been announced yet.
Nucleic acid tests for COVID-19 conducted on all relevant personnel came back negative, the market watchdog announced.
The CDC said a recent investigation showed the care center lacked a standard management system and quality disinfection.
Some parents of the infected newborns, including Ma, father of a baby born on January 10, have decided to sue the care center, as they suspect that it may have hidden the facts from the parents when they clearly knew an infection had occurred in the center and did not provide professional knowledge when they found some babies had pneumonia symptoms, leading to further infection among the children.
When some kids showed symptoms like coughing, their parents were told by staff in the center that it was simply caused by dry air, Ma said.
Ma told the Global Times on Saturday that the care center refused to admit any wrongdoing over the incident.
Ma’s son started showing symptoms including nasal congestion and coughing on January 30 and was rushed to hospital on February 1 as his condition became serious. He was later diagnosed with neonatal pneumonia. He is still receiving treatment in an intensive care unit as of press time, Ma said.
It was planned that his wife and son will stay in the center to receive 28 days of postpartum care in the center, which costs 17,800 yuan ($2,751.88) in total.
A father surnamed Zhang told the media that his child, born on January 6, became infected after being sent to the care center and is now receiving treatment in NICU. He said the first infected baby was taken to a local hospital on January 16.
The center said it asked parents to take their newborns home as soon as they found out the babies had pneumonia.
The center would refund the rest of the care expenses, and is willing to cover medical expenses not covered by social insurance, according to a handwritten announcement by the center.
Syncytial virus is the most common virus that causes pneumonia in infants, especially children under 1 year old, accounting for one third of the pneumonia among infants, Hou Wei, an expert on respiratory diseases in the Second Affiliated Hospital of Xi'an Jiaotong University, told the Global Times on Saturday.
It is a relatively mild virus, causing moderate fever, coughing, faster breathing, milk choking, or wheezing in the lungs among infants, Hou said. "It is not life-threatening generally, but if the infant received no timely treatment, it would cause complications that will aggravate the condition," he added.
He noted that pneumonia that occurs after childbirth is often caused by cross-infection, such as transmission via air and objects. Syncytial virus-caused pneumonia can be transmitted from person to person via respiratory tract, but it has low transmission rate, Hou noted.
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