More than 1,000 pregnant women contract COVID-19

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – More than 1,000 pregnant women in Trinidad and Tobago have contracted COVID-19 since the first case linked to the pandemic was detected here two years ago, a senior medical official said Wednesday.

The director of the Directorate of Women's Health at the Ministry of Health, Dr Adesh Sirjusingh, told a news conference that since the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic, 1,181 pregnant women have contracted the virus with the majority of the cases being community acquired.

Dr Sirjusingh said that 58 cases of pregnant women contracting the virus were recorded in 2020, 1,101 last year, and so far this year, 22 cases have been recorded.

“The majority of these patients, when you look in the histories, they are community acquired. Just like the general population, these patients are getting infected in their homes, when they're out doing their normal business, as well as in their workplaces.

“Of these persons, two per cent has been hospitalised, a smaller number ended up in the High Dependency Unit (HDU) [and] some went to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). We actually have patients there now, and since the start of this year we've had one additional maternal death in the post-partum period, added to the five I would have mentioned before, so we now have six confirmed maternal deaths associated with COVID-19.”

Dr Sirjusingh said that the pandemic has made pregnancy a high-risk state and that most of the critically ill cases are women who are not vaccinated.

“Pre-term birth is a common complication of COVID-19 infection in pregnancy,” Dr Sirjusingh said, disclosing that a newborn baby who died as a result of prematurity was a case of mother to child transmission. He said as a result, the cumulative number of COVID-19-related maternal deaths now stands at six.

The senior medical official told reporters that both the Sinopharm and Pfizer vaccines have been approved for breastfeeding mothers, while for pregnant women in their second and third trimester, the Pfizer vaccine has been approved.

He said as at January 17 there were 1,084 vaccinations started during pregnancy, while 675 women who have started their vaccination prior to pregnancy have since completed it during pregnancy.

During the news conference, Dr Sirjusingh noted that with January being designated Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, this is now the fourth most common form of cancer amongst women of all ages in Trinidad and Tobago.

“However, it is one of the most common cancers seen in our younger women, those less than 50 years of age. Cervical cancer is a cancer which starts off as an irregular growth of cells in the cervix and then may invade the other tissues of the body,” he said as he noted that there are no tell-tale signs or symptoms as patients are asymptomatic and some patients may present with irregular abnormal bleeding either before or during menopause.

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