Lima - Two pregnant women diagnosed with the new coronavirus in Peru have given birth to babies who have tested negative for the disease, a hospital in the capital Lima said on Tuesday.
The first of the children was born on March 27 and the second on March 31, both through cesarean sections on the advice of doctors to avoid complications, the Rebagliati Hospital in Lima reported.
"Fortunately, there has been no vertical transmission, that means that there has been no contagion from mothers to newborns," said Carlos Albretch, a doctor in the family unit of the hospital, which is run by state-owned Essalud.
He added that both mothers were in good health, although still receiving treatment for the coronavirus.
Medics in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the outbreak originated, raised concerns at the start of February about potential transmission of the virus by mothers to unborn children after at least one case of a baby born with symptoms.
However, a study of nine pregnant women in China who had tested positive for the virus, published in the Lancet in mid-February, reported that there was "no reliable evidence as yet available to support the possibility of vertical transmission of Covid-19 infection from the mother to the baby."
The World Health Organization has said that new mothers who have tested positive for the virus should be encouraged to care for and breastfeed their newborns as normal, provided they maintain stringent hygiene.
Albretch said the women would be supported to stay with their babies.
"This is a new pandemic, we have no experience," he said. "China and Italy have some publications that give some breastfeeding recommendations. Transmission through breast milk has not been demonstrated."
He said for women with more severe Covid-19 symptoms, the guidance could be different. "In this case the newborns would have to be separated from the mother," he said.
The Rebagliati Hospital added in a statement it had conducted a second swab test on the newborns and was awaiting the results.
Peru has so far had 2 954 confirmed cases of the virus and 107 deaths, while 1 301 people recovered.