SINGAPORE - Many people, including expectant mothers, have tested positive for Covid-19 here over the last few months amid the pandemic.

From May to end-October this year, there were 91 cases of pregnant women with the disease at KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH).

The Straits Times looks at what they need to know if they test positive for the coronavirus.

Q: I am pregnant and tested positive with an antigen rapid test (ART). But I have no symptoms. What now?

A: Pregnant women should follow a different set of instructions from the default protocol for other people to isolate and continue taking ARTs until they test negative or feel unwell, said Dr Lim Min Yu, president of the Obstetrical & Gynaecological Society of Singapore.

"Pregnant women are at higher risk of severe disease. Therefore, if your ART is positive, you are recommended to get a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test confirmation," he said.

The test should be done at a polyclinic or a general practitioner clinic, not by a gynaecologist.
"I understand that you're concerned for the well-being of your baby, but please don't go to your gynaecologist's clinic. They are not set up to do PCR tests," Dr Lim added.

Q: The PCR test confirms I'm positive. What happens to me?

A: Expectant mothers who test PCR-positive should self-isolate in a room with an attached toilet while waiting for instructions, said Dr Lim.

The Ministry of Health will contact them and take them to either KK Women's and Children's Hospital, Singapore General Hospital or National University Hospital for an assessment.

Those found suitable for home recovery will be sent home, while those who are unsuitable will be sent to a Covid-19 treatment and care facility. Those who require hospital care will be admitted.

Q: What will make me suitable for the home recovery programme?

A: Pregnant women who test positive will generally have to meet the following criteria to qualify for home recovery: They should be fully vaccinated, have had less than 26 weeks of gestation, had an uncomplicated pregnancy until the infection, have no co-existing medical conditions, are not living with anyone 80 years and above, and be able to isolate at home.

As at Nov 12, pregnant women of any age who meet these criteria may be eligible for the programme.

Q: What if I am unvaccinated?

A: Unvaccinated pregnant women who test positive should be admitted to hospital regardless of their gestation period, said Dr Lim.

"The risks of severe Covid-19 are so much higher in women who have not been vaccinated... If you are admitted, this is to allow you to be closely monitored and to step up care if you do become unwell," he added.

Q: What happens if I test positive during labour?

A: As anyone being admitted to hospital needs to undergo an ART and a PCR test, there is a chance someone in labour may test positive.

In this case, the baby's father will not be able to accompany the woman, said Dr Lim. Some hospitals may also not be able to accept Covid-19 patients in labour, so they may be transferred to another hospital.

The mother will be cared for in an isolation room by staff wearing full personal protective equipment.

Most Covid-19 patients are still able to have a natural delivery, said Dr Lim, but it may take a longer time to move them from the labour room to an operating theatre because of added precautions that need to be taken.

After delivery, how long a Covid-19 patient remains in hospital depends on her mode of birth as well as her symptoms.

"If you are no longer (infectious) and are otherwise well, then you'll be discharged. You won't necessarily stay for 10 days," added Dr Lim.