The global COVID-19 pandemic, caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has led to substantial consequences on public health systems both directly and indirectly. Over a year into the pandemic, there have been more than 164 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 3.4 million deaths reported from 216 countries across the globe. National governments, international organizations, academia and other stakeholders are developing and updating guidelines to reduce exposure and limit spread to the healthcare providers and the public at large.
Between 1-10% of COVID-19 cases are in children (in unvaccinated populations,) and most children have had mild symptoms, a good prognosis and very low mortality rates. Similarly, the majority of pregnant women experience relatively mild symptoms or remain asymptomatic, but recent data show an increased risk of maternal morbidity and mortality especially among symptomatic pregnant women with COVID-19, as well as an increased likelihood to deliver preterm and admission of their babies to the neonatal unit. These outcomes may be even higher among pregnant women in low and middle income countries. This emerging evidence underscores the importance of ensuring quality care during the antenatal and post-partum period.
The purpose of this brief is to summarize current evidence and guidance for maintaining safe and effective care across the spectrum of maternal, newborn and infant care while protecting mother and child and health care providers during COVID-19. Furthermore, we review implications of the principle of “do no harm” for maternal, newborn and infant care delivery during COVID-19, so that this information is conveniently and readily available to clinical and health system policy leaders and stakeholders in countries and communities. Additionally, considerations for safe oxygen delivery as well as key Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) measures at home and in healthcare facilities for pregnant women, newborns and
children are described in detail later in the brief