Coronavirus: Saudi Arabian woman with COVID-19 undergoes C-section in Riyadh hospital

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A woman infected with COVID-19 has undergone a successful Cesarean section in a hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, reported the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) on Thursday.

Doctors suspected the woman of having coronavirus when they checked her during her pregnancy, said Dr. Haitham Badr, the head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Security Forces Hospital in Riyadh, via SPA.

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Due to the threat of the woman spreading the virus to the medical staff involved, the hospital only allowed medical staff essential to the operation to be exposed to the woman, according to Dr. Badr.

He added that the hospital was careful to ensure that the preventative measures protected medical staff without affecting the care provided to the patient.

“The newborn is in good health, thanks to Allah Almighty,” said Maj. Gen. Dr. Muhammad Al-Zahrani, the head of the Department of Pediatrics.

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Can pregnant mothers infect their children with COVID-19?

It is not yet known conclusively whether a mother can transmit COVID-19 to her newborn baby. Chinese scientists carried out a preliminary study in February that suggested the disease cannot be transmitted during pregnancy, but noted more research was needed.

According to the most recent World Health Organization (WHO) release, the few studies that have been done suggest that transmission via pregnancy was not possible.

However, the WHO noted that “transmission after birth via contact with infectious respiratory secretions is a concern.”

“It is reassuring that so far, the evidence suggests that pregnant women with no underlying conditions, and their babies, are at no more risk of contracting coronavirus than other individuals,” said Dr Jo Mountfield, in a video published by the UK-based Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists.

“So far, there is no evidence that coronavirus can pass to your baby while you are pregnant or during the birth,” she added.

Dr Mountfield also advised pregnant women to continue to attend antenatal appointments unless they have symptoms, in which case they should self-isolate and inform their maternity team at the relevant hospital.

Find out the latest WHO guidelines on pregnant women and coronavirus, including whether they should breastfeed, here.