Medical experts are scurrying to analyze new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus involving newborn babies, pregnant women and those who tested positive after their quarantine ended.
So far, eight pregnant women have been placed in isolation after contracting COVID-19 in Daegu and Busan.
One gave birth on Friday in Daegu, marking the first such birth in the country. The baby tested negative.
Despite assurances from health authorities that mother-to-child transmission during pregnancy is unlikely, pregnant women fear a negative impact on their babies.
Infected pregnant women are classified as a high-risk group as they are vulnerable to viral infections due to reduced immune function.
Fever, in particular, can have a negative effect on the formation of the neural tube of the developing fetus. Fever medicines that are used to control COVID-19 symptoms are considered safe for use during pregnancy.
“Experts in foreign countries see that there’s a slim chance of transmission of COVID-19 by blood,” Kwon Joon-wook, director of the National Institute of Health, said at a briefing Saturday.
A 4-week-old baby was confirmed to have contracted the virus on Sunday, becoming the youngest COVID-19 patient in the country.
After the baby’s father tested positive on Friday, his wife and daughter, who live in Dongdaemun-gu in Seoul, were founded to be infected. The wife’s parents, who reside in Seongbuk-gu in Seoul, were also diagnosed with the virus.
Previously, the country’s youngest patient was a 45-day-old who tested positive in North Gyeongsang Province on Feb. 1.
Cases where patients who tested positive after undergoing self-isolation have raised questions about the virus’s incubation period, which is generally believed to be no more than two weeks.
A 22-year-old man tested positive on Saturday after possibly catching the virus from a COVID-19 patient who had attended a church service at the controversial Shincheonji Church of Jesus.
The man had already been released from home quarantine Feb. 2 after showing no symptoms. He had taken part in a Shincheonji Bible study class attended by the 30-year-old man at the center of the first case in Gwangju.
A similar case occurred in Ansan, Gyeonggi Province, where a 25-year-old Shincheonji follower tested positive on Sunday although she completed her two-week quarantine period a week ago.
“There are a few cases in young people that don’t show symptoms even if they’re infected with the virus,” a city official said.