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The Health Ministry has reported a sharp increase in deaths and severe illness among pregnant women infected with Covid-19.
This occurred amid low vaccine registration rates among pregnant mothers.
“Since pregnant mothers are among groups who are at high risk of severe Covid-19 infection, preventive measures are essential to avoid infection.
“The Health Ministry urges all pregnant mothers to get vaccinated against Covid-19 to reduce the risk of complications should they become infected.
“Husbands should give support for their spouses to ensure they get their vaccines. The vaccination should be completed before entering the third trimester,” said the ministry’s director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah today.
He said pregnant mothers can contact the nearest health clinic to expedite their vaccination.
Noor Hisham’s statement came following the high-profile death of the singer Siti Sarah Raisuddin on Aug 9 following a Covid-19 infection.
She was seven months pregnant at the time and delivered her child Ayash Affan via surgery on Aug 6, which was the same day she had been intubated.
According to Noor Hisham, there have been 70 Covid-19 deaths involving pregnant women up to Aug 9.
There were no such deaths in the entirety of 2020, but up to two deaths a month have been recorded from January to May this year.
“However, there was a spike in deaths since June 2021 with 17 deaths. Data shows that two of them had received one vaccine dose, while the other 15 were not vaccinated.
“Based on available information, 47 percent of deaths have comorbidities,” he said, adding that the vaccinations for pregnant women had only begun late June 2021.
Noor Hisham also noted that pregnant women are more likely to be admitted to intensive care units following a Covid-19 infection compared to the general population.
He said that up to June 2021, there have been 3,396 infections among pregnant women in Malaysia, which is nearly one percent of the pregnant women in the country. The rate has increased from 200 infections per month in October 2020 to 850 per month in May 2021 in line with the overall increase in cases.
When it comes to ICU admissions, however, he said pregnant women make up 5.3 percent of ICU cases on Aug 7 compared to 3.0 percent a month earlier on July 10.
“A detailed analysis shows that the ratio of pregnant mothers receiving intensive care for Covid-19 infection versus the total Covid-19 patients in critical condition is 1-to-20.
“This ratio is far higher than the ratio of infections among pregnant mothers versus the general population, which is 1-in-220,” he added.
At the same time, only 146,759 pregnant mothers have signed up for the Covid-19 vaccination as of Aug 8, which is estimated to be only 40 percent of pregnant mothers in the country.
Of those who registered, 83,251 (57 percent) have received at least one dose, while 20 percent have received both doses.