Covid-19 Updates

COVID-19: Are babies and pregnant women safe?

COVID-19: Are babies and pregnant women safe?. The woman had been quarantined at Mkoba Teachers college after returning from Botswana earlier. Back in May this year, government medical doctors at Gweru Provincial Hospital successfully delivered a pregnant woman who tested positive for Covid-19 at a quarantine centre.

There were serious concerns on the safety of health officials and of the baby with regards to contracting Covid-19 as this was the first of its kind to be recorded in the country. Fortunately, the woman gave birth to a healthy baby via a caesarian section with no complications recorded as doctors took precautionary measures to ensure they were safe.

They were fully clothed in Personal Protective Equipment, too. Speaking to The Herald, Epidemiologist, Dr Kelvin Charambira shed some light on the chances of the baby being safe from infection. He also said this was a new phenomenon yet to be fully investigated and reported on. Dr Charambira explained that although the area of Covid-19 was new, there were similarities with other viruses.

“For a virus like HIV, a mother can pass it on to the baby. In the case of Covid-19, if a rapid test is performed, the likelihood of the baby testing positive for Covid-19 is there because the test will simply be detecting antibodies from the mother. Antibodies can easily pass through the placenta to the unborn child. As such, the test will read positive not because the child has the virus, but it will be antibodies picked up,” he said.

Dr Charambira added that it was also a procedure that newborn babies of HIV positive mothers are not tested using a rapid test.

This, he explained, is because they will be having HIV antibodies from the positive mother which cross on to the baby during pregnancy. “Which is why PCR tests are conducted to really test the actual virus, this could also follow with the coronavirus. So you may find out that a baby may test positive with a rapid test and negative with a PCR test,” he said.

Dr Charambira said it was the manner in which the health officials test and investigate the virus that then differs and may give different results for the examined child. “The only different aspect is on how you are going to test for it only.”

The acting Permanent Secretary for Health and Child Care, Dr Gibson Sibanda said the operation was conducted well with full adherence to standard Infection Control and Prevention Guidelines. He was also quoted saying that the lessons that were drawn from that first case were going to be used to model responses and management of similar cases in future.

Two other women who were in quarantine in the border town of Plumtree also gave birth to healthy babies. According to the World Health Organisation Covid-19, positive mothers must be encouraged and supported to breastfeed safely, hold their babies skin to skin and share a room with their baby.

This they said is because close contact and early, exclusive breastfeeding helps a baby to thrive. Women with Covid-19 must practice respiratory hygiene by wearing a mask, wash their hands before and after touching the baby and also routinely clean and disinfect surfaces.

Source – The Herald

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