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The NSW Minister of Health

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Yesterday – or the day before – the NSW Minister of Health stated words to the effect that “it’s inevitable that everyone in NSW is going to get Omicron.” This of course is – almost – a self-fulfilling prophesy given the fact that he and the current Premier have made no effort whatsoever to manage the situation preferring Freedom Day, opening up and personal responsibility to be our guides. The old right-wing tropes like “herd immunity”, “let it rip” and “Covid’s just like the flu” might as well be back.

But there are some problems with the Minister’s views:

  • While Omicron may be less severe than Delta it is still a potentially serious illness particularly if you have not had your booster vaccination;
  • We know Covid can be a serious illness in pregnant women and while vaccination helps immensely it can still cause hospital admission, ICU admission and preterm birth;
  • Covid is extremely inconvenient. Even this government needs you to isolate at home if you get it and your access to medical and obstetric care will be extremely limited – so monitoring for potential obstetric complications will be almost non-existent and monitoring of your condition will be via the phone from NSW Health; and
  • While we are reassured, we don’t yet know the long-term effects of Covid on you and your baby. There is no long-lasting immunity to this virus (and its future mutations) so there is no benefit from getting it.

At risk of being repetitive can I emphasise that if you do get it, you will not be able to receive any routine pregnancy (or any other medical) care – such as ultrasound scans – for a couple of weeks. The only people checking on you will (apart from me) be NSW Health people via the phone. And while yes if you become unwell or have any significant concerns about yourself or your baby you can come to hospital don’t assume there will be heaps of midwives and others available to care for you – there are a lot of health care workers on leave because of Covid exposures and (thanks Minister) increasing numbers of hospitalisations.

So please. Please, please, please, do all you can to avoid getting Covid.

  • Please avoid indoor gatherings (eg NYE parties), concerts, the movies and restaurants (indoors);
  • Please wear a closely fitting surgical (not cloth) mask at all times you are not eating and drinking and eye glasses help too;
  • Avoid travel in public transport or planes if you can;
  • Ask your partner and immediate family to be equally careful (unless you want to spend days sitting in your car in endless testing queues because you are a close contact);
  • Just because Uncle Pete (or whomever) has just had a negative rapid antigen test that does NOT mean he is not infectious with Covid. Exercise significant caution because of your pregnancy; and
  • Get your booster as soon as you can (this is currently 5 months from your second vaccine).

Thanks Rob. But what if I do get Covid?

  1. Let me know.
  2. NSW Health will eventually be in touch with you and obey all of their instructions re isolating and contacts etc.
  3. Do some on line shopping. Buy an oxygen saturation monitor and a home blood pressure machine (I’m told Blooms the Chemist have these and they deliver promptly).
  4. Monitor your oxygen saturations (these should be above 95%), your pulse (this should be less than 100) and your blood pressure (this should be less than 140/90 – this has nothing to do with Covid; it is just standard looking out for preeclampsia in pregnancy).
  5. Take paracetamol for the fever.
  6. If you are concerned that you are deteriorating, please call an ambulance. Tell them you have Covid and are pregnant.
  7. If you are well from a Covid perspective but are concerned about yourself or your baby from a maternity perspective please contact me directly or, failing that, the delivery suite at the hospital at which you are booked.

Please try to stay safe.

Rob Buist

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