Egyptian govt encourages women to avoid pregnancy during COVID-19
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.