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Police raid 4 additional hospitals over infant deaths

Dec 29,2017
Police raided on Thursday four more hospitals in Seoul that received newborns from the Ewha Womans University Medical Center after the death of four infants there, to find out if the hospitals are at fault for the rotavirus infection of some infants.

After four infants died at the intensive care unit for newborns at the Ewha hospital in Yangcheong District, western Seoul, on Dec. 16, the remaining babies from the intensive care unit were sent to four hospitals, including Hallym University Medical Center, Yonsei University’s Severance Hospital and Seoul Metropolitan Government Seoul National University Boramae Medical Center.

After the deaths, there were 12 infants remaining at the Ewha hospital. Of them, nine have been confirmed to be infected with rotavirus. Rotavirus causes severe diarrhea and some infants can die from the infection, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The virus spreads through “contaminated hands, objects, food and water,” according to the CDC.

“It is unclear if rotavirus was a cause of death of the four infants, but the raid and the investigation results will provide some evidence of the hospitals’ hygiene level,” said a police officer.

Police, in raiding the Ewha hospital’s intensive care unit for newborns on Dec. 19, found out that one out of the four infants who died was diagnosed with rotavirus infection five days before the death but was not isolated in the unit.

Parents of the dead infants have asked the hospital to explain why it didn’t tell the parents of the infected baby that the baby had the rotavirus infection, and why it did not isolate the baby, but have not received an answer.

The question was included in a set of questions the parents submitted to the hospital on Wednesday, asking it to give its answers publicly by 1 p.m. Thursday, but the hospital responded on Thursday, saying, “Please wait for investigation results from the police.”

BY HONG SANG-JI, ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]