Available data and research suggest that pregnant people seem to have the same risk of COVID-19 as adults who are not pregnant. However, historically, expectant mothers have had a higher risk of severe illness when infected with viruses that are similar to COVID-19, as well as other viral respiratory infections, such as influenza. Therefore, WHO recommends that pregnant women with symptoms of COVID-19 or those who have been exposed to it, must be prioritized for testing. Women are also recommended to take precautions to protect themselves against COVID-19, and report possible symptoms (including fever, cough or difficulty breathing) to their healthcare provider.
The New England Journal of Medicine, in a research published on April 13, revealed that most of the pregnant women screened and who were positive for Covid-19 at delivery were asymptomatic, and more than one of eight asymptomatic patients who were admitted to the labour and delivery unit were positive for coronavirus. This underscores the risk of coronavirus among asymptomatic labour room patients. Moreover, it is possible that the true prevalence of infection may be underreported because of false negative results of tests. Prioritizing testing for pregnant women and the resultant Covid-19 status will aid healthcare staff to determine hospital isolation practices and bed assignments, inform neonatal care, and guide the use of personal protective equipment. The data provides an important opportunity to safeguard the health of mothers, babies, and health care teams during these challenging times.