Basseterre, St. Kitts, April 14, 2020 (SKNIS):
Despite limited data at present there is no evidence that pregnant women are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 than the general population, says Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Hazel Laws, during the April 14 National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) COVID-19 Daily Briefing.
Dr. Laws stated that, however, due to changes to a woman’s body and immune system, pregnant women can be prone to be affected by some respiratory track infections. “It is therefore important that you take precautions to protect yourselves against COVID-19 and report possible symptoms including fever, cough or difficulty breathing to your healthcare provider,” she said.
The Chief Medical Officer added that pregnant women who have symptoms of COVID-19 will be prioritized for testing.
She said that pregnant women should take the same precautions to avoid contracting the COVID-19 virus as other persons. Such precautions include frequent hand-washing with alcohol based hand sanitizer or soap and water, maintaining a minimum of six feet physical distance between themselves and others and avoiding overcrowded spaces, avoiding touching their eyes, nose and mouth and practising respiratory hygiene.
Dr. Laws stated that it is still unknown if the virus can be passed from mother to child during pregnancy or delivery. She added that the virus has not been found in amniotic fluid or breast milk.
All pregnant women have the right to quality care before, during and after childbirth, said Dr. Laws.
“The staff on the maternity ward in St. Kitts and Nevis has been sensitized to the guidelines regarding the delivery of care to pregnant females who are COVID-19 positive,” she said.
New mothers who are COVID-19 positive should note that close contact with the baby and early exclusive breastfeeding help the baby to thrive, said Dr. Laws.
“You should be supported to breastfeed safely with good respiratory hygiene,” she said.