Top

COVID-19 and pregnant health care workers and other at-risk workers

25 March 2020

Updated 25 March 2020
 
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) acknowledges the risk posed to the community, healthcare workers and all patients due to the COVID-19 pandemic. RANZCOG also recognises our responsibility to respond to this situation as a large organisation and also as a medical college and health leader.
 
The College respects the role of government, health departments and health administrators in coordinating a national response. The College has already issued general advice for healthcare workers and pregnant patients. The purpose of this communiqué is to address the issue of health and safety for pregnant health care workers and other at-risk workers.
 
The risk to pregnant healthcare workers is quite specifically impacted by the nature of their professional activities and exposure. While not directly applicable, the following advice can be extrapolated to other professions with a relatively high risk of exposure. This includes, but is not limited to teachers, child-care workers, aged-care workers and service providers with high volume contact.
 
At this time, pregnant women do not appear to be more severely unwell if they develop COVID-19 infection than the general population. It is expected that the large majority of pregnant women will experience only mild or moderate cold/flu like symptoms. However, pregnant women are potentially at increased risk of complications from any respiratory disease due to the physiological changes that occur in pregnancy. These include reduced lung function, increased oxygen consumption and changed immunity.
 
Currently there is no evidence of an increased risk of miscarriage, teratogenicity or vertical transmission of the COVID-19 virus. There is a possibility of an increased incidence of premature birth but there is insufficient evidence at this point in time.
 
All health care workers in direct patient contact will potentially have increased exposure to COVID-19. This risk applies particularly, but is not limited to, those in nursing and midwifery, or those providing medical, or ancillary care, to known infected patients. This will increase their risk of contracting the disease. This applies to pregnant health care workers.
 
RANZCOG recommends that, where possible, pregnant health care workers be allocated to patients, and duties, that have reduced exposure to patients with, or suspected to have, COVID-19 infection. All personnel should observe strict hygiene protocols and have full access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
 
The College also urges employers to be sensitive to the fact that pregnant women are, appropriately, often anxious about their own health and protective of their unborn baby. Consideration should be given to reallocation to lower-risk duties, working from home or leave of absence.
 
The current circumstances are unprecedented. The community will rely on the medical system to function at the highest level and near 100 percent participation of the medical, nursing and midwifery workforce. Specialist practitioners may need to re-allocate to other areas of the medical system. The College expresses our deep and sincere gratitude to our members, all doctors, nurses, midwives and other health care workers, the administrative staff and management of our hospitals and health services for their dedication, professionalism and compassion.
 
RANZCOG recognises that decisions around resource allocation are complex, and multifactorial, and defers to local jurisdictions in this regard.

 
Further information
 
New Zealand: Ministry of Health

Australia: Department of Health



MEDIA CENTRE

News

AMC and MCNZ extend RANZCOG’s accreditation

The AMC and MCNZ have both extended the accreditation of the RANZCOG training and education programs and the CPD programs by four years to 31 March 2024.

30/03/2020

News

RANZCOG Wall

A post from FRANZCOG Dr Debjyoti Karmakar

30/03/2020

News

RANZCOG Wall

A post from Dr Sarah Moore, GP Obstetrician​

30/03/2020