Mon | May 16, 2022

More pregnant women being admitted with COVID

Published:Friday | January 21, 2022 | 12:14 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer

Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, chief medical officer (CMO) in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, has reported that there is an increase in the number of pregnant women hospitalised with COVID-19 as the island experiences a fourth wave of the pandemic.

Further, the number of patients requiring high-flow oxygen, who require up to 60 litres of the gas per minute, has also been on the rise.

Up to Monday, 20 pregnant women were in hospital. Prior to that, five or fewer pregnant women were generally hospitalised.

“These are persons in late pregnancy or right around the delivery period; some of them in the post-partum – after they have delivered. This is not good because what we have seen is that persons at this particular time in pregnancy tend to develop severe COVID-19,” Bisasor-McKenzie said during Thursday’s COVID-19 Conversations press briefing.

Bisasor-McKenzie explained that measures were put in place for foetal and maternal monitoring of pregnant women on COVID-19 wards.

“At the Victoria Jubilee Hospital, they would have created different areas for the management of those antenatal patients as well as the patients post-delivery. Of course, the spaces are not endless, and if it is that we continue to have increased numbers, then we may be challenged in terms of finding the high-dependency spaces,” she explained.

The CMO said capacity was increased across regional hospitals over the last two years, especially with the addition of maternity high-dependency units through the Programme for the Reduction of Maternal and Child Mortality.

However, she explained that some hospitals have indicated that the shortage of critical care nurses will affect their ability to manage.

“Even now, we are not overwhelmed with the demand for high-dependency spaces, but we will come under pressure in terms of having the staff to manage those spaces. We are seeing again an increase in the number of our nurses that are migrating, especially our postgraduate-trained nurses … . There has been considerable loss of those critical care-trained nurses, and that will hamper our ability,” Bisasor-McKenzie said.

In the last two weeks, the number of seriously ill patients – which includes the moderate, severe, and critical categories – has also increased.

“Most of the increase that we are seeing are in the moderately ill group; however, over the last couple of days, we would have seen that the critically ill persons are increasing, and we are seeing a very sharp uptick in the number of severely ill persons,” she said.

The CMO said that as the number of critically ill and severely ill patients increases, hospitals are likely to have a challenge with both bed occupancy and oxygen supplies.

The number of patients on mechanical ventilation has not begun to increase significantly.

“Hopefully, we will not see a lot of persons going on mechanical ventilation, but once you see the spike starting to happen, then it suggests that we may see that,” Bisasor-McKenzie said.

Jamaica recorded 860 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, increasing the total number of confirmed cases since March 2020 to 116,994.

The daily positivity rate was 47 per cent, while the seven-day average was 48.9 per cent.

Six deaths were recorded, three of which were previously under investigation.

judana.murphy@gleanerjm.com