Baby who died from COVID-19 may have contracted virus at the hospital

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By Isanella Patoir

Health officials suspect that the six-day-old infant, who was recorded as Guyana’s 150th COVID-19 death, may have contracted the disease inside the West Demerara Regional Hospital where he was born.

The News Room understands that the ministry is investigating the matter as a possible incident of nosocomial infection. Head of Internal Medicine at the Georgetown Public Hospital and renowned cardiologist, Dr Mahendra Carpen explained to the News Room that: “nosocomial [infection] basically means that you got it in a healthcare facility and it could be anything, it could be COVID-19, it just means that you picked up this infection in a health care facility.”

Additionally, Chief Medical Officer, Dr Narine Singh told the News Room on Tuesday that the infant may have contracted the disease at the hospital.

“It is possible and that is what we suspect, we did some swabbing of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) room and so on, but we didn’t pick up anything as yet, we are checking for other bacteria too,” Dr Singh said.

According to the Chief Medical Officer, about 12 employees who came into contact with the baby have been identified but only some were swapped for COVID-19.

“Several people, I think about 12 of them, was back and forth with the patient and in the maternity unit…I think about six of them tested so far and so far the results that I got its negative and some of them have to do the test later on because of their shifts and so on,” Dr Singh stated.

The baby was born on November 17 via cesarean-section with a congenital heart defect and as a result, he was placed in the NICU and had little contact with his mother.

Six days later, the baby died; before a post mortem examination, he was swabbed for COVID-19 as a precaution and the results came back positive.

The baby’s parents were also swabbed and the results came back negative.

Strangely, the father of the child-related the News Room that the administration of the hospital told the family that the baby’s COVID-19 result was a false positive and handed over the child for burial.

However, the Chief Medical Officer clarified that the baby’s sample was tested twice and both results came back positive.

“It was not a false positive, it was a positive case which was picked up at the time of post mortem that’s when we did a swab,” Dr Singh said.

At the moment, there is no protocol at public health facilities to test maternity patients for COVID-19 prior to admission. Dr Singh said a COVID-19 test is only administered if the pregnant mother displays symptoms of the virus.

There is also no routine testing of healthcare workers unless they come into contact with a positive patient or develop any signs or symptoms.

The baby’s death is recorded as the youngest person to die from the disease in Guyana, following an 11-year-old girl who was diagnosed with Leukemia.

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