Lapu Covid responder urges couples to defer pregnancy

CONSIDERING the challenges in giving birth in the time of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), Lapu-Lapu City’s pandemic response team head Nagiel Bañacia on Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, suggested that couples defer plans for pregnancy.

Bañacia made the suggestion after two women, both positive for Sars-CoV-2, had to give birth on board their ambulance around midnight Tuesday, Sept. 14.

The two women could not be accommodated in a hospital’s delivery room designated for coronavirus-positive patients because another patient was giving birth at the time.

On Sept. 11, a Covid-19 patient also gave birth on board the Lapu-Lapu City Covid-19 response team’s ambulance. In August, Bañacia recalled that an infant tested positive for the virus upon birth and died within 24 hours. The mother survived.

Bañacia said women should not get pregnant at this time because they might transmit the virus to their babies.

Dr. Ozge Tuncalp of the World Health Organization (WHO) earlier said, however, that mother to baby transmission in utero was “very rare and no active virus has been identified in breast milk.”

If the newborns get infected, “most of the time they present with symptoms that are not very severe.” The mother, on the other hand, is at risk of getting severe Covid-19.

Bañacia said he was aware that couples are free to decide when to get pregnant, but he said the challenges are greater in a pandemic.

“There should be no problem if the mother is not positive (for the virus) and delivery is normal because she could just go to a birthing center. But mothers who are positive (for the virus) should be brought to a hospital because they need extra care,” Bañacia said.

“As we have observed, several pregnant women have tested positive (for Sars-CoV-2),” he added. The women are required to undergo a swab test before their due date.

Bañacia said there is currently no quarantine facility or birthing center in Lapu-Lapu City that caters exclusively to pregnant women. The City’s temporary treatment and monitoring facility at the Lapu-Lapu City College is almost full. Besides, it does not accommodate pregnant women.

He said they will construct a new stepdown facility that can accommodate 280 beds, including 10 beds for pregnant women, at the Mactan National High School. This new facility will also have a birthing center.

Lapu-Lapu City had 730 active Covid-19 cases as of Wednesday. New infections have slowed down, averaging 45 a day in the last 10 days.

In March 2021, the WHO issued a statement warning that coronavirus “infection during pregnancy may result in increased risk of preterm (before 37 weeks) birth.”

The babies also face health risks like disabilities, developmental delays and infections. Prematurity-related complications are the leading causes of death of newborns and children under five years old, the WHO added.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DOH) said pregnancy is not a contraindication to getting the Covid-19 vaccine, except Sputnik V.

Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, spokesperson of the Visayas Covid-19 Vaccination Operations Center, said pregnant women and those who plan to get pregnant should get the vaccine to protect themselves and their unborn child. (GCM, JKV, WBS, CTL)