**Our knowledge of COVID-19 is changing daily. Due to this, this information will likely be subject to modification.**
What is Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
COVID-19 is a novel virus from the coronavirus family that was first identified in the Wuhan province of China in November 2019. A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus which means it was not previously identified. The virus that causes COVID-19 is not the same as coronaviruses that commonly affect humans, like the common cold. There is no vaccine or treatment for the virus.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms can range from mild to severe. The most common symptoms are fever, cough and shortness of breath. Less common symptoms are fatigue, headache, sore throat, nausea, diarrhea.
Am I more at risk if I am pregnant?
Currently there is minimal data of pregnant women who have contracted the virus. However, based on the small amount of data that is available, there does not appear to be an increased risk in pregnant women. Pregnancy does affect your immune system and may increase your risk of contracting respiratory viruses. If you become infected, you may be at higher risk for severe illness compared to non-pregnant patients as seen in patients who have contracted other respiratory viruses like SARS or the flu. The limited data that is available on COVID-19 suggests this may not be the case with this virus. This may change when more data is available.
Can COVID-19 affect my pregnancy?
The data for COVID-19 is limited currently. In other coronaviruses (SARS and MERS), there was not an increased risk of miscarriage or stillbirth. However, in pregnant patients who had the flu during pregnancy, they did have higher rates of low birth weight and preterm birth. In the first trimester, having a high fever has been associated with increased risks of certain birth defects.
Can I transmit the virus to my baby during pregnancy or delivery?
Again, there is limited data. There have been a few cases reported of infants born to mothers with COVID-19 and none of the infants tested positive for the virus. There have been no published reports of mother-to-baby transmission for other coronaviruses (SARS and MERS). There has been no virus detected in amniotic fluid or breast milk. There are reports of newborns with COVID-19 infection which suggests that the mother can transmit the virus through contact with her infant.
Is it safe for me to deliver at a hospital that has COVID-19 cases?
Yes. Hospitals are taking serious precautions to keep patients and their healthcare providers safe. Suspected COVID-19 cases are being isolated, and precautions are taken to prevent spread of the virus. Stricter visitor policies have also been implemented to keep patients safe. You should be able to deliver at your hospital without putting you or your baby at additional risk.
I work in healthcare or other high risk of exposure setting. Should I continue to work until the baby is born?
Healthcare employers should be taking extra precautions to limit the exposure of pregnant employees to patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. Follow the CDC’s risk assessment and infection control guidelines at your work place. If you work in another high risk of exposure job setting (school, travel, etc.), you should talk to your employer about what they are or could do to decrease the risk of infection.
Will the hospital separate me from my newborn and keep the baby in quarantine?
The hospital will not separate you from your newborn if you don’t have COVID-19 and have not been exposed to the virus.
If you have tested positive for COVID-19 or if you have been exposed, the CDC, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine recommend that you be separated from your baby. This is to decrease the risk of infecting your infant. This separation would be until you are no longer at risk of transmitting the virus to your infant. This is difficult to imagine and would be heartbreaking. However it is to keep your baby healthy. Talk to your family, your doctor and the hospital about how to plan for who will take care of your baby if you tested positive for COVID-19 or if you have been exposed.
How can I protect myself from contracting COVID-19?
Avoid close contact with other people
The virus is spread mainly from person to person between people who are in close contact (about 6 feet). It spreads through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes and the droplets land on people nearby or inhaled into the lungs.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Distance between yourself and other people
- Stay home when possible and don’t make unnecessary trips to the store, etc.
Wash your hands
- Use soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Wash frequently, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing or using the restroom.
- If you can’t access soap and water, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Stay home if you are sick
- Unless you need to access medical care
- Please call your provider’s office or hospital before you arrive if you have fever, cough, shortness of breath so they can protect you and other patients
Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze
- Cover your mouth and nose by coughing/sneezing into the inside of your elbow (not your hand) or cover with a tissue.
- Throw used tissues in the trash.
- Immediately wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer.
Clean and disinfect
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily
- Tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
Should I wear a facemask?
- If you are sick:
- You should avoid contact with other people. You should put on a mask before you go into your provider’s office or into the hospital.
- If you are NOT sick:
- You do not need to wear a facemask unless you are taking care of someone who is sick and they are not able to wear a facemask. Facemasks may be in short supply and they should be saved for health care providers and caregivers of sick people at home.
What is social distancing and why is it important?
Social distancing is currently the best tool we have to slow the spread of COVID-19 virus. Social distancing is physical distancing. Separating ourselves physically from other people can decrease the spread of the virus. The goal of this, and why it is important, is to decrease the burden of our medical system. Instead of a “surge” of patients all at one time, the cases will be over several weeks or months and allow our medical system to give each patient optimal medical care.
For more information, check out https://www.flattenthecurve.com/.
Who should I contact if I am concerned that I have symptoms?
You can contact your OB provider if you are concerned that you have symptoms of COVID-19. If you come to your provider’s office or to the hospital, please call before you arrive so that we can be ready to take care of you.
Or you can use the options below:
UAMS Health COVID-19 Hotline
COVID-19 screening online through telehealth option:
UAMS COVID-19 drive-thru screening option: