abc– A Singaporean woman who was infected with COVID-19 in March when she was pregnant has given birth to a baby with antibodies against the virus, offering a new clue as to whether the infection can be transferred from mother to child.
Celine Ng-Chan told the Straits Times newspaper that her son Aldrin was born this month without COVID-19 but with the coronavirus antibodies.
“My doctor suspects I have transferred my COVID-19 antibodies to him during my pregnancy,” Ms Ng-Chan told the paper.
The 31-year-old contracted the disease along with her mother and daughter after returning from a family holiday in Europe in March, the Straits Times reported.
She had been mildly ill from the disease and was discharged from hospital after two-and-a-half weeks.
“My pregnancy and birth was smooth sailing despite being diagnosed with COVID-19 in my first trimester, which is the most unstable stage of the pregnancy. I’m very blessed to have Aldrin and he came out very healthy,” she said.
“I feel relieved my COVID-19 journey is finally over now.”
Associate Professor Tan Hak Koon of the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Singapore told the Straits Times that: “It is still unknown whether the presence of these antibodies in a newborn baby confers a degree of protection against COVID-19 infection, much less the duration of protection.”
The World Health Organization says it is not yet known whether a pregnant woman with COVID-19 can pass the virus to her foetus or baby during pregnancy or delivery.
To date, the active virus has not been found in samples of fluid around the baby in the womb or in breast milk.
Doctors in China have reported the detection and decline over time of COVID-19 antibodies in babies born to women with the coronavirus disease, according to an article published in October in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.
The Singaporean response to COVID-19
Singapore recorded eight new cases of the coronavirus on Sunday, seven of which were imported and one that came from community transmission.
The country of around 6 million has recorded a total of 58,213 cases throughout the pandemic, compared to Australia’s 27,893.
But Singapore has only recorded a fraction of the deaths and has the world’s lowest fatality rate with only 29 COVID deaths compared to 907 in Australia.
Singapore was one of the first countries to report a coronavirus case outside of China and once had the highest rate of COVID-19 in South-East Asia, but has now all but eradicated the virus.
The cramped dormitories for young, low-wage labourers, mainly from Bangladesh, India and China had been at the centre of the city-state’s spiralling cases earlier this year.
The Government imposed a two-month lockdown to curb the spread of the disease in April.
While life has returned to relative normal since then, mask wearing is mandatory, there are strict social distancing rules, and the island’s borders remain largely closed.
Neighbouring Indonesia, meanwhile, reported its record daily rise in coronavirus infections with 6,267 cases, bringing the total to 534,266, data from the country’s COVID-19 task force showed.
This was the third record high in a week for Indonesia. The data showed 169 new coronavirus deaths, taking the total fatalities to 16,815.
Indonesia has the highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths in South-East Asia.