The Nigeria Disease Control Center (NCDC) has advised pregnant and breastfeeding women to take routine preventive actions to prevent new Coronavirus infection (COVID-19).
Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director General of the NCDC, gave the advice in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency (NAN) on Friday in Abuja.
Ihekweazu said that preventive measures were recommended in alignment with the Department of Family Health, Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH).
He listed measures to include careful hand washing, avoiding close contact with people with symptoms of infection and covering sneezing and coughing.
He said that it is currently unknown whether pregnant women were more susceptible to COVID-19 than the general public, nor whether they were more likely to have serious illnesses as a result.
“Based on the information available, pregnant women appear to be at equal risk to other adults.
“However, it is known that bodily changes that occur during pregnancy can put pregnant women at increased risk for some infections.
“Pregnant women had an increased risk of serious illness when infected with viruses from the same family as COVID-19 and other viral respiratory infections, such as influenza.
"Therefore, pregnant women should take the same precautions as the general public to avoid COVID-19 infection," he advised.
The head of the NCDC advised pregnant women to clean their hands frequently using alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
“Clean and disinfect the surfaces touched daily. If possible, stay at home for the entire duration of the pregnancy, except for prenatal hospital appointments.
“Eat healthy and nutritious meals. Ensure adequate bed rest. If you think you may have coronavirus or have been exposed, stay home for 14 days.
“Don't go to the hospital, but contact your doctor and the toll-free number 0800-9700 0010 from the Nigeria Disease Control Center (NCDC) or the state epidemiologist immediately.
“You will be evaluated in accordance with the current case definition guidelines established by the NCDC.
“You should contact your clinic to inform them that you have symptoms suggestive of coronavirus, especially if you have routine visits in the next seven days.
“They should postpone routine prenatal visits until the isolation period ends and provide the right place and time for you to attend.
“You shouldn't go to a routine clinic. It may be necessary for them to reduce the number of prenatal visits you have ”, he explained.
He said that breastfeeding women should, together with their families and health care providers, decide whether and how to start or continue to breastfeed.
Ihekweazu said that breast milk offers protection against many diseases and is the best source of nutrition for babies.
“In limited studies, COVID-19 was not detected in breast milk; however, it is uncertain whether mothers with COVID-19 can spread the virus through breast milk.
"If you suspect or have a COVID-19 infection and choose to breastfeed, maintain strict hygiene and wash your hands before each feeding and wear a face mask," he said.
Iheakweazu said another good option was to pump or express breast milk manually and have someone who was not sick to feed the baby.
“If they pump or express milk by hand, remember to wash your hands before doing so.
“Be aware that media speculation is rife with COVID-19 and not everything you read in the newspapers or online or hear is accurate or verified.
“Reliable and accurate information will always be released by the Ministry of Health or the Nigeria Disease Control Center.
You can find the latest information and advice by contacting NCDC at: NCDC, toll-free: 0800-9700 0010, https://covid19.ncdc.gov.ng/guidelines.php, Twitter and Facebook: @NCDCgov ” , he stated. (NAN)