Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, a number of hospitals have opted to use some inventive and tiny personal protective equipment for their youngest patients. For instance, several Thai hospitals have given newborns mini face shields to help protect the little ones from the novel coronavirus. While photos of the adorable chubby-cheeked newborns wearing their plastic mini masks are certainly cute, they're also an unsettling reminder of how serious the current health crisis is.
Viral photos from more than one hospital in Thailand have depicted newborn babies cozily swaddled in blankets while also wearing mini-face shields. But these face shields aren't a fashion statement; they're an attempt to protect the newborns' faces from direct contact with saliva or large respiratory droplets that may contain the novel coronavirus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), coronavirus is believed to spread mainly from person to person through the respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
"We have extra protection measures for little ones and friends with face shield for newborns," Paolo Hospital in Thailand's Samut Prakan province wrote in a Facebook post earlier this month. "Congratulations to all mothers and dads."
Currently, according to the John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, there are more than 2,420 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, in Thailand. While the Southeast Asian country's first coronavirus case reportedly occurred in late February, Thailand didn't institute a lockdown and shut down schools, bars, and other recreational places until infections began to surge in March.
But because babies can't wait until after the coronavirus to be born, of course, hospitals around the world are also implementing new policies such as restricting visitors in an effort to limit the spread of coronavirus. Earlier this month, photographs of a tiny tot wearing a face shield while sleeping in the maternity ward of a Thai hospital were shared by Reuters. According to the Daily Mail, that baby had been born at BNH hospital in Bangkok.
Meanwhile, video and pictures of newborns wearing mini face shields decorated to look like crowns while being cared for at Princ Hospital Suvarnabhumi in Samut Prakan province were also shared over Twitter and YouTube. In a video shared by The New York Post, the babies can be seen sleeping and even bottle feeding while wearing the face shields. Staff in the hospital's maternity ward can also be seen wearing face shields of their own (although theirs don't have crown decorations) as well as masks and hair coverings.
And at Praram 9 Hospital in Bangkok, a newborn recently delivered was also given a pink mini face shield to wear during their stay in the hospital.
Since enacting social distancing measures and imposing a curfew and semi-travel ban, Thailand has seen the spread of coronavirus slowing within the country, according to Bloomberg. Although 32 people have reportedly died in Thailand from COVID-19 since the outbreak first began, the country reported its smallest daily increase of infections seen since cases spiked March 18 earlier this month.
Until Thailand has completely contained the spread of coronavirus, however, it seems newborns will be issued tiny face shields to better protect them from the virus.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here, and Bustle’s constantly updated, general “what to know about coronavirus” here.