The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) has urged employers to give consideration to the reallocation of pregnant health workers to lower-risk duties, working from home or to provide leaves of absence for pregnant health workers.
In a statement, the College has stated that “the risk [of COVID-19] to pregnant healthcare workers is quite specifically impacted by the nature of their professional activities and exposure”, and has recommended that pregnant workers be reallocated to roles that have reduced exposure to patients with, or suspected to have, COVID-19 infection.
“All health care workers in direct patient contact will potentially have increased exposure to the COVID-19 virus. This will increase their risk of contracting the disease. This risk applies to pregnant health care workers”.
RANZCOG has indicated that while there is currently no evidence of an increased risk of miscarriage, teratogenicity or vertical transmission from COVID-19, there is a possibility of an increased incidence of premature birth. Further, it has said that pregnant women are potentially at increased risk of complications from any respiratory disease due to the physiological changes that occur in pregnancy, including lung function, increased oxygen consumption and changed immunity.
Because of this, RANZCOG has recommended that, where possible “pregnant health care workers should be allocated to patients, and duties, that have reduced exposure to patients with, or suspected to have, COVID-19 infection.” It further recommended that they observe strict hygiene and PPE protocols.
You can read RANZCOG’s release here.