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For five years before COVID-19, T&T recorded three or four maternal deaths annually. Now, the coronavirus is causing that figure to spike.

As Director of Women’s Health, Dr Adesh Sirjusingh continues to warn that pregnancy puts women at a high risk of developing severe disease; he said the country recorded more than five maternal deaths last year due to COVID-19. Thus far in 2022, one mother suffered a postpartum COVID-19 associated death.

Sirjusingh spoke at the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Update this morning.

“For the entire year of 2021, we had eight maternal deaths. Of those, five were ascribed to having co-existing COVID-19. The data has already been released, and they were all unvaccinated. For this year, we have already reported one maternal death. It was already reported in the newspaper, and this was an unvaccinated patient,” Sirjusingh said.

Up to January 14th, the Ministry recorded 1,181 pregnant women who developed COVID-19. Of that figure, 22 were in January, while 1,101 occurred in 2021. In 2020, the Ministry recorded 58. Sirjusingh said most of these women acquired COVID-19 via community transmission. He said most expectant mothers, who are critically ill, did not take a vaccine.

“These patients are getting infected in their homes, when they are out doing their normal business, as well as in their workplaces. Of these persons, 2 per cent have been hospitalized. A smaller number ended up in the High Dependency Unit. Some went to the Intensive Care Unit: we actually have patients there now. Since the start of this year, we have had one additional maternal death in the postpartum period added to the five that I would have mentioned before.”

He confirmed that one baby died from prematurity. Doctors confirmed that it was a mother-child transmission after early delivery. They also confirmed six cases of mother to child transmission, where there was one stillbirth. Sirjusingh said preterm birth was a more common complication of COVID-19 during pregnancy. The Ministry is still considering boosters for pregnant women at the National Immunisation Technical Advisory Group.

In August 2021, the Ministry approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for pregnant women in their second and third trimesters. It approved the Pfizer-BioNTech and Sinopharm vaccines for bread feeding mothers.

As of January 17, the Ministry recorded 1,084 pregnant women starting their vaccination with 675, who started before pregnancy, completing their regiment during pregnancy.