Covid Strikes At John Hunter Maternity Ward and Neonatal ICU

A Covid-19 outbreak at a major Hunter hospital has seen the virus spread inside a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and maternity ward.

The alarm was sounded last Sunday, September 26, after the mother of a newborn baby, who was a patient on the maternity ward at Newcastle’s John Hunter Hospital alerted staff she had developed respiratory symptoms.

The parent was immediately isolated and swabbed for the virus, returning a positive result.

Following her diagnosis, close and casual contacts on the maternity ward and in the Neonatal ICU at John Hunter Children’s Hospital, where her child is being cared for, were immediately contacted, tested and told to isolate. This included dozens of parents and staff.

So far, four mothers and two fathers who visited their newborns have tested positive.

All staff were wearing Personal Protective Equipment while caring for these families and have all tested negative at this stage.

Dr Paul Craven, Medical Controller for HNE Health’s Covid-19 response said there is minimal risk to the premature babies in the Neonatal ICU who have all been tested and returned negative results.

“The babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit have been assessed as a low-risk for exposure, however, multiple tests have been undertaken, with all babies testing negative for COVID-19. The babies continue to receive high quality care from our dedicated nursing staff and neonatologists,” Dr Craven said.

He said the facility remains operational after being deep cleaned.

“The operation of the NICU is unaffected and staff continue to abide by strict COVID-safe protocols.”

Parents who are unaffected continue to access the Unit to spend time with their babies, while those in quarantine have access to the NICView camera system, which allows them to log on and see their baby 24 hours a day.