Egyp­tian govt en­cour­ages women to avoid preg­nancy dur­ing COVID-19

Arab News - - News Middle East - Laila Mo­hammed Cairo

The Min­istry of Health in Egypt has called on women to post­pone their preg­nan­cies be­cause of the coro­n­avirus.

The min­istry is­sued a state­ment say­ing that de­lay­ing preg­nancy dur­ing the spread of COVID-19 was a ne­ces­sity. It said new dis­cov­er­ies have linked the virus to blood clots that may af­fect the pla­centa and the fe­tus’ nu­tri­tion.

The state­ment said that preg­nancy may cause the in­di­rect weak­en­ing of the im­mune sys­tem, mak­ing preg­nant women vul­ner­a­ble to the virus.

“Use of con­tra­cep­tives can be used to tem­po­rar­ily pre­vent preg­nancy,” the state­ment said. The min­istry also un­der­lined the sig­nif­i­cance of stay­ing ac­tive, re­laxed and rested dur­ing the preg­nancy. It said walk­ing was con­sid­ered the best form of ex­er­cise for preg­nant women but that dur­ing the spread of the coro­n­avirus it was not rec­om­mended that preg­nant women leave home ex­cept for ab­so­lute ne­ces­si­ties to avoid in­fec­tion.

The min­istry ex­plained that health units pro­vided var­i­ous birth con­trol meth­ods, in­clud­ing the Im­planon cap­sule, a long-term method that lasts for three years. The cap­sule can be im­planted eas­ily and with­out a sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dure by spe­cial­ized doc­tors in less than three min­utes.

The min­istry con­firmed that the cap­sule is suit­able for most women as well as breast­feed­ing moth­ers, and is sold for five Egyp­tian pounds ($0.30).

Egyp­tian doc­tor Zainab Ab­delMeguid, 40, said that the Health Min­istry’s state­ment was cor­rect but should have been is­sued ear­lier, when the virus ini­tially emerged in Egypt in Fe­bru­ary, given the ex­treme risk that a preg­nant woman may face. Gov­ern­ment em­ployee Wagida Ab­del-Latif said that the gov­ern­ment’s an­nounce­ment was im­por­tant due to an al­ready over­whelmed Egyp­tian health care sys­tem and its in­abil­ity to ac­com­mo­date pa­tients who are suf­fer­ing from the coro­n­avirus. Ab­del-Latif is a mother of two, but said that even if she was not a mother she would have re­sponded to the gov­ern­ment’s re­quest to post­pone get­ting preg­nant for her own safety and the safety of her fu­ture chil­dren.

Mer­vat Ab­del-Karim, 29, does not agree with the min­istry’s de­ci­sion. She told Arab News that she is newly mar­ried, and that she dis­agrees with the min­istry’s re­quest be­cause she wants to be­come a mother. Ab­del-Karim’s hus­band shares her view as he wants to be­come a fa­ther. House­wife Gamila Saeed has been try­ing to be­come preg­nant for 14 years. But when she fi­nally be­came preg­nant, dur­ing her ninth month of preg­nancy fears in­creased about her los­ing the fe­tus be­cause of the virus.

The iso­la­tion hos­pi­tal in the vil­lage of Sin­billawain, in Daqahlia gov­er­norate in north Cairo, wit­nessed a birth days be­fore the mother’s iso­la­tion pe­riod ended. Dr. Mo­hamed El-Su­rugi, di­rec­tor of Al-Sin­billawain Hos­pi­tal, ex­plained that preg­nant women suf­fer­ing from the coro­n­avirus are placed un­der con­tin­u­ous care even if the pa­tient’s con­di­tion is sta­ble, es­pe­cially if the pa­tient is near­ing the end of her preg­nancy. He said that the pa­tient’s con­di­tion re­mained sta­ble while she was re­ceiv­ing treat­ment by the med­i­cal staff check­ing on the health of the fe­tus.

El-Su­rugi said that the de­liv­ery was sup­posed to be by cae­sarean due to the con­di­tion of the woman and the fe­tus, but the pa­tient felt se­vere pain be­fore her sched­uled cae­sarean sec­tion, forc­ing the med­i­cal team to per­form the op­er­a­tion ear­lier than ex­pected. Be­fore child­birth a smear was taken from the woman to test if she was still car­ry­ing the virus. Dur­ing the op­er­a­tion, pre­ven­tive mea­sures were taken to en­sure her safety and that of the baby. After the op­er­a­tion, the smear re­sults came back neg­a­tive, much to the joy of the med­i­cal staff.


Egyp­tian health work­ers col­lect sam­ples at a drive-through coro­n­avirustest­ing cen­ter at the Ain Shams Univer­sity in Cairo on Mon­day.

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