90 pregnant women test positive for COVID-19 at GPHC

- 52 babies delivered in isolation

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By Isanella Patoir

A total of 90 pregnant women tested positive for COVID-19 at the maternity unit of the Georgetown Public Hospital since August of this year.

The test results are from 408 patients, who were swabbed over the last five months, Head of Obstetrics and Gynecology (OBGYN), Dr Lucio Pedro told the News Room during a recent interview.

According to Dr Pedro, 38 babies were born via a caesarian section in a specialised operating theatre for COVID-19 surgical patients while 52 babies were ‘normal delivery.’

Fortunately, there is no recorded case of mother to child transmission of COVID-19 in Guyana. Once a baby is born from a mother who tested positive, there is no contact between the mother and child until the mother recovers.

“The complication rate is not as much as we would expect; so far we have been doing well with these patients; they have been recovering and going home,” Dr Pedro said.

Doctors and nurses in the maternity unit also tested positive for the virus, but Dr Pedro did not wish to provide the statistics as to how many and from what period.

The GPHC, in May this year, established a COVID-19 maternity unit where seven patients are accommodated in the transition ward and only six patients are allowed in the isolation ward.

The COVID-19 maternity ward at GPHC (Photo: DPI)

“There are certain patients that might go into labour [and] we deliver them in the isolation place; if they need a C-section, then we send them to the other side where there is special theatre for COVID-19 patients who need surgery,” Dr Pedro said.

Asymptomatic maternity patients are also being sent to the Infectious Disease Hospital at Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara, however, Dr Pedro explained that when it’s time to deliver, the patients have to be transferred back to the Georgetown Hospital since there are no resources available at Liliendaal.

“We have patients who are being sent there, but right now we don’t have an obstetrician assigned directly to Liliendaal, we are looking into it and one of the problems at Liliendaal also is we don’t have an operational theatre,” Dr Pedro said.

The government last month transferred all other COVID-19 patients to the Liliendaal facility to ease the burden on the Georgetown Hospital.

Head of Obstetrics and Gynecology (OBGYN), Dr Lucio Pedro

Meanwhile, Dr Pedro stated that while there is no protocol to test pregnant women before being admitted at the Georgetown Hospital, testing is required at private hospitals. He explained that once the patient’s result comes back positive, the private hospitals do not admit them and they are sent to the Georgetown Hospital.

“When they come here, we have an admission place where they are triaged if they got any symptoms that we suspect, there is a room called transition area, we do the test and if it is positive, then we transfer them to isolation,” Dr Pedro explained.

The government has also begun training healthcare workers to administer a rapid antigen test, which will produce results in 20-minutes. Dr Pedro welcomed this initiative as it will allow pregnant women to be tested on-site.

“This is good because, in a way, we can know which patients to isolate and which patients should go in the open ward,” Dr Pedro said.

Additionally, Dr Pedro is also recommending that pregnant women are prioritised in the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine in Guyana.

Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony recently revealed that the government is leaning towards administering the first set of COVID-19 vaccines to the elderly population and persons with serious underlying health conditions.

The minister had initially stated that frontline workers would be the first to receive the vaccine.

The Pfizer vaccine, which has shown 95 per cent protection against the virus, was on Thursday given emergency approval by the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), according to the BBC. The Pfizer vaccine has already been approved for the public in the UK, Canada, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

But during the clinical trials of the vaccine, pregnant women were excluded.

“I think the frontline people should be a priority and I am quite sure the Ministry of Health is working on that and then pregnant mothers yes, we don’t want complications with pregnant mothers,” Dr Pedro said.

 

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