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Spurt in Covid maternal deaths in rural Punjab – toll 23 in 50 days

The sudden spurt Covid maternal deaths has raised alarm bells in the Health Department, and prompted health officials to lay special emphasis on well-being of pregnant women in the door-to-door survey across villages.

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana |
Updated: May 23, 2021 5:32:10 am
Spurt in Covid maternal deaths in rural Punjab – toll 23 in 50 daysData by the NHM revealed that in April, 6 pregnant women died due to Covid in rural Punjab, while in 20 days of May, 17 deaths such happened in rural Punjab. (Representational Image)

While rural Punjab reported 23 Covid maternal deaths in a year from March last year till March 31, 2021, there were 23 such deaths recorded in 50 days in rural parts of the state from April 1 to May 20 this year. At present, there are 126 active cases among pregnant women across the state’s villages.

The sudden spurt Covid maternal deaths has raised alarm bells in the Health Department, and prompted health officials to lay special emphasis on well-being of pregnant women in the door-to-door survey across villages.

“We are concerned over Covid maternal deaths and our community health officers are on the job in villages to make the patients aware. In a two-day survey this week in Punjab’s villages, they found a total of 126 active Covid patients who were all pregnant women. Out of these, one woman Laxmi of Bella village of Roopnagar also died on May 19. She was in her second trimester,” said National Health Mission, Punjab, Director, Dr Areet Kaur.

Data by the NHM revealed that in April, 6 pregnant women died due to Covid in rural Punjab, while in 20 days of May, 17 deaths such happened in rural Punjab.

This is the reason that under Mission Fateh – 2, we are going door to door in rural areas to guide families well in time, added the NHM Director.

On May 17, Kuldeep Kaur of village Malkana, Bathinda, died of Covid after delivering her baby, while Seema from Bathinda urban died post delivery due to Covid on the same day.

Dr Tejwant Singh Sandhu, Civil Surgeon, Bathinda, said, “There were two postpartum deaths in our district due to Covid five days after giving birth to babies. In both cases, the babies are doing fine.”

Dr Shilekh Mittal, Medical Superintendent, Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital (GGSMCH), said, ”From May 3 till May 17, a total of 8 deaths of pregnant women happened at GGSMCH. Patients, however, came from different districts. One woman had 22 weeks of pregnancy, while another was in the first trimester. Another, 28 weeks pregnant woman could not survive. All had severe Covid pneumonia, so they could not be saved.”

The 8 victims from GGSMCH were from rural and urban areas both. Dr Areet Kaur said, “As part of our door-to-door survey, we are making a complete database of Covid positive pregnant women and the family members who are also positive as of now. We are going to track them regularly so that all of them stay healthy throughout their pregnancies and can have safe deliveries. Our surveys under Mission Fateh-2 will continue and even the new cases of pregnant women will be added in the database so as to provide them proper healthcare.”

She added, “Pregnant women who test positive for Covid also get Fateh kits, but they should not use any cough syrup, antibiotics and should also not drink any concoction on their own. They must eat all medicines as per doctor’s advice. Our community health officers are telling them all this information and if needed rapid response teams can also get them connected to a doctor via tele-consultancy. Pregnant women should not take any of their symptoms lightly. A few of these are dizziness, too much vomiting, pain in stomach, fits, reduced foetal movement apart from high grade fever and drop in oxygen concentration.”

Dr Seema Grover, gynaecology department head at the GGSMCH, said, “Severity of Covid cases among pregnant women is more in second wave. Last year, there was hardly any maternal death due to Covid, but this April onwards, they are coming with severe Covid pneumonia and other complications. In early pregnancies, infants also couldn’t be saved. However, I feel that vaccine is the only way out for pregnant and lactating mothers. Guidelines are being made for vaccination for lactating mothers by Centre. Let’s see when it is started actually.”

Dr Iqbal Singh Ahuja, a senior gynaecologist from Ludhiana, said,

“First wave didn’t affect pregnant women, but this time it is severe. Many of my patients got affected at Level 1 only and could be managed. But this virus is more infectious for pregnant women, I wish vaccination trials for them are cleared soon.”

Meanwhile, Dr Baldeep Singh, a renowned paediatrician and founder of Ludhiana’s Deep Hospital, has announced that if the parents of a newborn baby are diagnosed with Covid and the baby doesn’t show any symptoms of the infection, the hospital will take care of and nurture the infant, until the parents recover from the infection. It is applicable for infants up to 28 days of birth and it will be free of cost, he added.

2nd wave in rural Punjab: Impact on maternal health

Active cases among pregnant women – 126

Covid maternal deaths in April 2021 — 6

Covid maternal deaths in May — 17 (till May 20)

Covid pregnancies in rural Punjab

Mohali – 17

Jalandhar – 11

Roopnagar – 10

Ferozepur – 8

Sangrur – 8

Gurdaspur – 6

Patiala – 6

Hoshiarpur – 6

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