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Covid-19 Australia: A huge spike in pregnant women becoming severely ill with the virus

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Health authorities are alarmed at the sudden spike in the number of pregnant women becoming seriously ill from Covid-19, with the virus causing premature births and in one case even infecting the unborn baby.

Seven pregnant women with critical cases of Covid were taken to Monash Medical Center in Melbourne this week.

One of the mothers is in intensive care fighting for her life, and severely preterm babies are being cared for in the neonatal intensive care unit.

Seven pregnant women with critical cases of Covid were taken to Monash Medical Center last week, with mothers having preterm births and babies arriving with the virus

Any woman who is 24 weeks or more pregnant will receive priority vaccinations from Pfizer at Victoria’s state-run centers on Sunday.

Head of Perinatal Services at Monash Health Dr. Ryan Hodges spoke at Victoria’s Covid-19 press conference on Saturday, expressing his team’s concerns about the increase in cases.

“What we’ve seen over the past week has raised the alarm,” said Dr. Hodges.

“We now have a lot of women who are very sick, who are at very high risk of being born prematurely.”

Dr Hodges said pregnant women who become ill with the virus are five times more likely to be admitted to Monash Health, and there is a one in three chance that they will need oxygen therapy if they are in the hospital.

He said there is also a one in seven chance that they will end up in intensive care, and there is a one in two chance that their baby will give birth in an emergency.

Dr Hodges added: ‘There is a one in two chance of having a cesarean section and you are twice as likely to have a stillbirth.

“Right now at Monash Women’s we have seven pregnant women in hospital.

‘One of them is 24 weeks pregnant in intensive care with a baby weighing 600 grams. She’s unwell.’

dr.  Ryan Hodges, chief of perinatal services at Monash Health, said pregnant women who get sick with the virus are five times more likely to be admitted to Monash Health

dr. Ryan Hodges, chief of perinatal services at Monash Health, said pregnant women who get sick with the virus are five times more likely to be admitted to Monash Health

‘We have 26 weeks, we have 28 weeks, we have 30 weeks – these are very high-risk and extremely preterm babies because of the degree of their infection,’ said Dr Hodges.

He also mentioned that a mother who was Covid-positive was taken to hospital Friday evening with her baby, who also had the virus.

Overwhelmingly, the women being cared for are unvaccinated and are believed to be from Melbourne’s northern and western suburbs.

Maternity wards in Australia have been closely monitoring how the Delta strain affected pregnancies in the US, UK and Europe, and are now preparing for the full burden.

dr. Hodges noted that more than 200,000 pregnant women in the US and UK had no side effects to the Pfizer vaccine, demonstrating how safe it is.

dr.  Hodges noted that more than 200,000 pregnant women in the US and UK had no side effects to the Pfizer vaccine, demonstrating how safe it is (stock image)

dr. Hodges noted that more than 200,000 pregnant women in the US and UK had no side effects to the Pfizer vaccine, demonstrating how safe it is (stock image)

“It doesn’t increase the risk of miscarriage; it does not increase the risk of abnormalities in your body; it does not increase the risk of pregnancy complications,” he added.

“It prevents serious illness, it prevents you from coming to Monash, it prevents your baby from being born prematurely and coming to our intensive care unit.”

He said the immune protection response crosses the placenta to the baby and protects him from the virus.

Monash’s maternity ward was shocked by the severity of the Delta strain in pregnant women, stating it was more dangerous than what is seen in the flu.

“We don’t see this in the flu,” Dr. Hodges said.

“I would never have seven sick women with the flu in the hospital.”

Monash's maternity ward was shocked by the severity of the Delta strain in pregnant women, stating it was more dangerous than what is seen in the flu (stock image)

Monash’s maternity ward was shocked by the severity of the Delta strain in pregnant women, stating it was more dangerous than what is seen in the flu (stock image)

Victoria registered 450 locally acquired Covid-19 cases on Saturday and there are now 2,793 active cases.

143 of Victoria’s active cases are in hospital, 34 in intensive care and 26 on a ventilator.

Only 11 percent of people hospitalized had received one dose, and 89 percent had not been vaccinated.

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