Babies not spared: DOH says 25 infants among confirmed COVID-19 cases in PH

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 30 2020 01:37 PM | Updated as of Apr 30 2020 07:44 PM

Babies not spared: DOH says 25 infants among confirmed COVID-19 cases in PH 1
“Baby Kobe,” a 16-day-old baby boy, is cheered on by health workers at the National Children’s Hospital as he is discharged and handed to the arms of his father on Tuesday. Fernando G. Sepe Jr., ABS-CBN News​

MANILA — The Department of Health on Thursday confirmed that there are now 25 infants who have contracted the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Philippines.

“Ang posibleng dahilan kung bakit pumanaw ang mga sanggol sa COVID ay dahil vulnerable sila sa mga kumplikasyon ng sakit buhat ng kanilang immature na immune system,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a televised briefing.

(A possible reason for the deaths of the infants from COVID is because they are vulnerable to the complications of the illness due to their immature immune system.)

At an earlier media briefing on Thursday morning, Vergeire said two of the 25 infants, classified as those 1-year-old or younger, died while the youngest case was a 9-day-old newborn from Cebu.

“Aming vine-verify ’yung accuracy nitong mga data na meron tayo. Pero ’yan ’yung pinakabata galing sa Epidemiology Bureau namin,” she added.

(We are still verifying the accuracy of our data. But that is the youngest from our Epidemiology Bureau.)


Meanwhile, the youngest recovered patient is 16-day-old Baby Kobe from Muntinlupa.

ABS-CBN News earlier interviewed the father who said the family had no idea how the child was infected.


Dr. Sherwin William Leonardo, a neonatologist who co-managed Baby Kobe while he was confined at National Children’s Hospital, said the infant arrived at the hospital when he was just 5 days old.

Doctors noticed that his stomach was enlarged and his parents reported that he had vomited and had not defecated. The baby was initially diagnosed with intestinal obstruction and had fever. He, however, recovered after taking antibiotics.

While Baby Kobe was born at home, Leonardo said there seemed to be no complications from the birth. 

“He was not premature. His activities and crying were normal after the birth, according to the parents,” the doctor said.


Vergeire said there is also no evidence yet of vertical transmission or for the infection to be passed from the mother to the baby immediately after birth.

“Kailangan pag-aralan, magkaroon ng ebidensya and then we can say (it’s possible),” she said, responding to questions about newborn babies at Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital who also tested positive for the disease.
(If there are studies, there are evidence then we can say it’s possible.)

This is also unlikely for Baby Kobe since Leonardo said the mother already tested negative of COVID-19.

Vergeire said babies most likely got infected after they were born.


The ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group said that DOH data released to the public as of April 29 only lists 24 infants — 15 boys and 9 girls.

Sixteen of them are in the National Capital Region, 4 in Calabarzon, 2 in Central Visayas and another 2 in Central Luzon.

Two of those who died included an infant from Caloocan City who passed away on April 2 and an infant from Lipa City who died on April 3, which was later identified as the youngest COVID-19 fatality in the country.

Leonardo had said the NCH had 4 confirmed cases of COVID-19. One of them is Kobe and the other is a 14- or 15-day old infant boy from Caloocan who died on April 2.

The infant was admitted on March 31 or 11 days after birth and showed signs of pneumonia and diarrhea.

“The baby had trouble breathing to the point that he had to be intubated,” Leonardo said in Filipino.

They also detected “severe acidosis” of high levels of acid in the baby’s blood.

“During the 2nd hospital day, the condition of the baby deteriorated…and he died,” Leonardo said.

Only one of the 24 infants listed in the DOH data drop was recorded recovered although majority are either asymptomatic or only had mild symptoms.

All 21 “active cases” or those not yet recorded as recovered or died are asymptomatic or mild, according to the DOH data analyzed by the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group.

COVID-19 may be fatal for the elderly, the immunocompromised, and those with underlying medical condition but 80 percent of cases globally showed a high chance of recovery "without needing special treatment," according to the World Health Organization. Previous data showed low incidents of COVID-19 in children and babies. 

The World Health Organization said COVID-19 symptoms include fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea.