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FAQs

Basic Facts about TB

What is tuberculosis (TB)?

TB is a disease caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium Tuberculosis. TB can attack any part of the body, but most frequently affects the lungs.

How is TB spread?

TB germs are spread from one person to another through the air. When a person with TB coughs, sneezes, laughs or sings, TB germs are released into the air. Anyone nearby who breathes in the air can be infected with TB.

What is TB infection and what is TB disease?

TB infection is when the germs enter the body and are not destroyed by the body’s defence system, but remain in the body without causing any symptoms or signs. TB disease is when the germs increase within the body and cause symptoms and signs.

Who is at risk of developing TB disease?

People living with HIV are at greater risk of developing TB. Because of their immature immune systems children under the age of five years are at increased risk, as are older people because of their weakened immune systems.  

What are the symptoms of TB?

You could have TB if you have been coughing for more than two weeks (especially if coughing up blood), have unexplained weight loss, and drenching night sweats or fever. Other symptoms include weakness, chest pain and other generalised aches.

What are some common forms of TB?

TB disease occurs most commonly in the lungs. It can also develop in almost any other part of the body, such as in the lymph nodes, heart, abdomen, kidneys, spine and so on.

How is TB diagnosed?

TB disease of the lungs is diagnosed by testing the sputum and having chest x-rays done. Diagnosis of TB in other parts of the body needs special tests. Visit your nearest health centre if you think you might have TB.

TB Prevention

Can TB be prevented?

Yes. People living with HIV who do not have symptoms or signs of TB can be given some medicines to reduce the risk of developing TB disease. New-born children are given a vaccine called BCG that prevents serious forms of TB from developing. People living with HIV can also have their chances of developing TB reduced when they take antiretroviral drugs.

There is someone in our household with TB. What can we do to prevent the spread of TB?

If there is someone in your household with TB, help them to access free TB treatment at the nearest health centre. Once they are on treatment, support them to complete the treatment. Remember, feeling better after beginning treatment does not mean that one is cured, people on TB treatment need to complete their medication.

Open windows and doors to let in fresh air at home, and where possible, have your family member with TB sleep in their own room and their own bed. Cover mouth and nose with tissue or arm/elbow when coughing or sneezing, and be sure to place any used tissues in the bin and to wash your hands.

TB Treatment

I am on TB treatment. What should I do if I miss a dose of my medication?

Continue taking your medication according to your schedule. Do not take two doses at the same time. If you miss many doses you must see your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

TB in Children

What are some of the symptom of TB in children?

For children under five years of age, if you see these symptoms, have them tested for TB immediately: sudden loss of appetite or interest in breast-feeding, rapid weight loss, fevers for two weeks or more, loss of consciousness, drowsiness and/or excessive sleepiness.

The immune system of children under the age of five is less developed, placing them at high risk of TB infection and disease. Children under the age of five in close contact with a person with TB should receive preventive therapy (INH) to prevent the development of TB disease. When a child has TB, it is usually because an adult in the family has TB. Children with HIV are also at high risk.

I might be pregnant, and suspect that I might have been exposed to TB. What can I do to protect myself and maybe my unborn baby?

If you think you might be pregnant, visit your nearest clinic for a pregnancy test as soon as possible. If you are pregnant book for antenatal care (ANC) at the nearest clinic as soon as you confirm your pregnancy. When you book at the ANC clinic you will be tested for both HIV and TB. It is important that you book early so that any disease is picked up and you can get treatment so both you and your baby are protected. Visit your clinic regularly for check-ups as advised by your nurse or doctor.

I am pregnant and have TB, should I wait until after I deliver to go on treatment?

TB can be safely treated and cured when you are pregnant. Early treatment is best for you and your baby as TB treatment helps to kill the TB germ in your body. Do not stop taking your treatments, even if you feel better. You need to take all doses of your medication for a minimum period of six months, or until the nurse or doctor tells you to stop. If you have any side effects from the treatment, you must tell the nurse or doctor.

Can TB harm my unborn baby?

If you have TB during pregnancy and you do not find out and treat it early, there is a higher risk of having a miscarriage, your baby being born prematurely, your baby being born with low birth weight and your baby being born with TB.

TB and HIV

I am HIV positive, should I be worried about TB?

HIV weakens the immune system. All people living with HIV should be screened for TB disease or infection. If you are HIV positive and also test positive for TB, you should get treatment as soon as possible. If you are taking antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), inform your healthcare provider to avoid drug interactions.

Remember, TB is curable, even if you have HIV. So, you should not worry, but be always on the look-out for the first sign of TB

I was tested and was found to have both TB and HIV. What happens next?

If you have TB and are also HIV positive but are not on antiretroviral (ARV) treatment, you will be started on TB treatment immediately. Your nurse or doctor will start you on ARVs within two to eight weeks.

If you are on ARV treatment already, you will continue with your ARVs and you will start TB treatment immediately.

If you are pregnant, have TB and HIV and you are already on ARVs, your doctor or nurse may change your treatment to find one that is best for you and your baby.

Drug-resistant TB

What is drug-resistant TB?

Multi drug-resistant TB (MDR TB) and extremely drug-resistant TB (XDR TB) is caused by the germ that causes normal tuberculosis, but that has developed a resistance to normal treatment and is more difficult to treat. 

How do I get drug-resistant TB?
  • If you have TB and you do not take your treatment as advised by the doctor or nurse, then the germs become resistant to the drugs used in normal TB treatment
  • You can also be infected by a person who has drug-resistant TB.
How is drug-resistant TB spread?
  • Just like ordinary TB; when a person with drug-resistant TB coughs, sneezes, laughs or sings, the germs are released into the air
  • Anyone nearby who breathes in the air can be infected with drug-resistant TB.
How do I know if I have drug-resistant TB?

IF YOU HAVE BEEN:

  • Coughing for two weeks or more (if you are HIV positive, a cough for any length of time)
  • Sweating at night
  • Having a fever for two weeks or more
  • Having chest pains
  • Coughing up blood.

YOU SHOULD GET TESTED FOR TB.

How can you prevent drug-resistant TB?
  • Always wash your hands after coughing
  • Always cover your mouth and nose with the inside of your elbow when you cough or sneeze
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw it away into a dustbin.
  • Open the windows in your home because sunlight kills TB germs and fresh air can blow the germs away
  • If you have drug-resistant TB, make sure that people you spend a lot of time with (at home or work or school) are tested for TB at the nearest clinic.
How is drug-resistant TB treated?

It takes two years or more to treat drug-resistant TB. Some people stay in hospital for the start of the treatment, and others start at a clinic or with support from someone from the community.

THERE ARE TWO PHASES FOR THE TREATMENT:

Phase 1: First six months (Intensive phase)

You will get an injection and take at least four kinds of tablets every day. Once a month you will be tested to see if there are still TB germs found in your cough.

Phase 2: Next 18 months (Continuation phase)

You will take at least four kinds of tablets every day. You will be visited by someone who will observe you taking your medication every day. Once every two months you will be tested to see if there are still TB germs found in your cough.

You should not smoke or use alcohol or drugs when you are taking the treatment.

EVEN IF YOU START TO FEEL BETTER DURING TREATMENT, REMEMBER THAT TAKING ALL OF YOUR TABLETS EVERY DAY FOR AT LEAST TWO YEARS IS THE ONLY WAY THAT DRUGRESISTANT TB CAN BE TREATED.

What are the side effects of drug-resistant TB treatment?

Side effects can be serious. If you have any of the symptoms listed below, you need to tell your doctor or nurse immediately and they will change your tablets or give you other treatment for the side-effects.

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Yellowish skin or eyes
  • Fever for three days or more
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Tingling or numbness around the mouth
  • Heart-burn or pain in the lower chest
  • Feeling itchy or getting a skin rash
  • Bruising easily
  • Bleeding from the gums or nose
  • Urine becoming dark or brown in colour
  • Aching joints
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred or changed eyesight
  • Ringing in the ears or hearing loss

THESE SIDE EFFECTS CAN BE TREATED. DO NOT STOP YOUR TREATMENT UNLESS TOLD TO BY YOUR DOCTOR OR NURSE.

How do I take care of somebody who has drug-resistant TB?
  • It is important that a person with drug-resistant TB also spends time with family and friends
  • If you are caring for someone who is sick with drug-resistant TB, you should wear a face-mask
  • Visiting a person with drug-resistant TB, and taking care of them or sharing a meal is safe; as long as the person who is sick covers their cough and windows are left open to let in fresh air
  • It takes several hours of exposure to TB germs in a closed space to be at risk of catching TB.
What food should I eat when I have drug-resistant TB?

It is important to get good nutrition if you are sick with TB. This means eating a balanced diet with a mix of different, healthy foods. Your nurse or doctor can advise you on what you should eat.

What if I have drug-resistant TB and HIV?

If you have both drug-resistant TB and HIV, you will need to take the TB treatment as well as antiretroviral (ARVs) therapy. You will also be given another medicine to prevent chest infections.

Remember that taking all of your drugs every day for at least two years is the only way that drug resistant TB can be cured!

TB and Diabetes

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease where the amount of glucose (sugar) in your blood is too high and your body cannot use it properly.

Who can get Diabetes?

Being overweight or having somebody in yourfamily with diabetes can make you more likely to get diabetes.

How do I know if I have Diabetes?

Look out for these symptoms of diabetes:

  • Often thirsty
  • Often tired
  • Needing to urinate often
  • Losing weight
  • Itching in the vagina
  • Having trouble with your eyesight
  • Slow to heal cuts, bruises and sores
  • Losing feeling orfeeling numb ortingly in your hands and feet.

IF YOU HAVE ANY OF THESE SYMPTOMS, VISIT YOUR NEAREST CLINIC TO BE TESTED FOR DIABETES.

IF SOMEONE IN YOUR FAMILY HAS DIABETES, YOU SHOULD ALSO GET TESTED FOR DIABETES.

How can Diabetes be prevented?
  • Exercising regularly
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • If overweight, reducing your weight
How is Diabetes treated?

Diabetes can be managed with a healthy diet, exercise and treatment.

Treatment will involve tablets or injections, or both, and is available forfree at your clinic.

IF YOU HAVE DIABETES, GET YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE CHECKED REGULARLY.

What is the connection between TB and Diabetes?

People with diabetes can easily get TB because their immune systems are weaker.

TB CAN MAKE DIABETES WORSE, AND DIABETES CAN MAKE TB WORSE.

Take all your treatment as advised by your nurse or doctor.

Talk to your nurse or doctor if you have any concerns or problems with your treatment.

TB and Pregnancy

How do I stay healthy when I am pregnant?

Attend all antenatal check ups

  • Take your treatment as advised by your nurse or doctor
  • Eat a well balanced diet
  • Clean, handle and cook food carefully to prevent passing on germs
  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Take regular exercise
  • Get enough sleep and rest.

ASK AT YOUR CLINIC ABOUT THE FREE MOMCONNECT SERVICE. REGISTER AND RECEIVE MESSAGES ON YOUR PHONE ABOUT HAVING A SAFE AND HEALTHY PREGNANCY AND REMINDERS ABOUT YOUR CLINIC APPOINTMENTS. REGISTER FOR MOMCONNECT FOR FREE BY DIALING *134*550#.

What if I am pregnant and have TB?
  • TB can be safely treated and cured when you are pregnant
  • Early treatment is best for you and your baby
  • TB treatment helps to kill the TB germ in your body
  • Do not stop taking your treatments even if you feel better
  • You will take your medication for a minimum of six months or until the nurse or doctor tells you to stop 
  • If you have any side effects from the treatment, you must tell the nurse or doctor.
What if I am pregnant, have TB and are also HIV positive?

If you have TB and are HIV positive and, are NOT on Antiretroviral (ARV) treatment:

  • You will start the TB treatment immediately, and
  • You will start the ARVs within two-eight weeks.

If you are on ARV treatment already:

  • You will continue with ARVs
  • You will start TB treatment immediately.

YOUR DOCTOR OR NURSE MAY CHANGE YOUR TREATMENT TO FIND WHAT IS BEST FOR YOU AND YOUR BABY

Can TB harm my developing baby?

If you have TB during pregnancy and you don’t out and treat it early, there is a higher risk of:

  • Having a miscarriage
  • Your baby being born prematurely
  • Your baby being born with low birth weight
  • Your baby being born with TB.

GET TESTED FOR TB EARLY AND BE TREATED TO PREVENT TB AFFECTING YOUR BABY.

Will the TB treatment affect me and my baby?

Most TB treatments can be taken safely when you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Your doctor or nurse will tell you more on safety of your treatment.

Can I breastfeed if I have TB?

YOU CAN SAFELY BREASTFEED YOUR BABY WHEN YOU ARE ON TB TREATMENT.

It is important that your baby gets all the nutrients it needs, and breast milk is best for this.

REMEMBER TO COVER YOUR COUGH TO PREVENT TB GERMS FROM SPREADING TO YOUR BABY

  • Use a tissue or cloth when you cough
  • Cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow
  • Put on a face mask.
What if I have TB, what happens to my baby after I have delivered?

All babies get immunized with an injection called BCG soon after birth to protect them from getting TB, but if you have TB, your baby will not be given BCG soon after birth until she or he has been tested for TB.

COVID-19 CORONAVIRUS

What is a coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but do not develop any symptoms and do not feel unwell. Most people (about 80 per cent) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around one out of every six people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. About two per cent of people with the disease have died. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.

How does COVID-19 spread?

People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to stay more than one meter away from a person who is sick.

Can the virus that causes COVID-19 be transmitted through the air?

Studies to date suggest that the virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets rather than through the air.

Can CoVID-19 be caught from a person who has no symptoms?

The main way the disease spreads is through respiratory droplets expelled by someone who is coughing. The risk of catching COVID-19 from someone with no symptoms at all is very low. However, many people with COVID-19 experience only mild symptoms. This is particularly true at the early stages of the disease. It is therefore possible to catch COVID-19 from someone who has, for example, just a mild cough and does not feel ill.

Can I catch COVID-19 from the faeces of someone with the disease?

The risk of catching COVID-19 from the faeces of an infected person appears to be low. While initial investigations suggest the virus may be present in faeces in some cases, spread through this route is not a main feature of the outbreak. Because this is a risk, however, it is another reason to clean hands regularly, after using the bathroom and before eating.

What can I do to protect myself and prevent the spread of disease?

Protection measures for everyone

Stay aware of the latest information on the COVID-19 outbreak, available on the websites and social media of the national Department of Health (www.health.gov.za), National Institute for Communicable Diseases (www.nicd.ac.za) and World Health Organization (www.who.int).

Most people who become infected will experience mild illness and recover, but it can be more severe for others. Take care of your health and protect others by doing the following:

  • Regularly and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water or clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitiser. Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand sanitiser kills viruses that may be on your hands.
  • Maintain at least one meter distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. Why? When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain a virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.
  • Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used
  • tissue immediately. Why? Droplets spread viruses. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.
  • Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health facility. Why? The national and provincial Departments of Health will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area. Calling in advance will allow your healthcare provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent spread of viruses and other infections.
  • Stay informed on the latest developments about COVID-19. Follow advice given by your healthcare provider and the national Department of Health on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on whether COVID-19 is spreading in your area. They are best placed to advise on what people in your area should be doing to protect themselves.

Protection measures for persons who are in or have recently visited (past 14 days) areas where COVID-19 is spreading

  • Stay at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and slight runny nose, until you recover. Why? Avoiding contact with others and visits to medical facilities will allow these facilities to operate more effectively and help protect you and others from possible COVID-19 and other viruses.
  • If you develop fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical advice promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition. Call in advance and tell your provider of any recent travel or contact with travellers. Why? Calling in advance will allow your healthcare provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also help to prevent possible spread of COVID-19 and other viruses.
How likely am I to catch COVID-19?

The risk depends on where you live or where you have travelled recently. The risk of infection is higher in areas where a number people have been diagnosed with COVID-19. More than 95 per cent of all COVID-19 cases are occurring in China, with the majority of those in Hubei Province. The risk in South Africa is currently low, however, it important to be aware of the situation and preparedness efforts in your area.

Should I worry about COVID-19?

If you are not in an area where COVID-19 is spreading, or if you have not travelled from one of those areas or have not been in close contact with someone who has and is feeling unwell, your chances of getting it are currently low. However, it is understandable that you may feel stressed and anxious about the situation. It is a good idea to get the facts to help you accurately determine your risks so that you can take reasonable precautions. Your healthcare provider, the National Department of Health and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) are all sources of accurate information on COVID-19. It is important to be informed of the situation where you live and take appropriate measures to protect yourself.

If there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in South Africa and you are in an area where there are cases of COVID-19 you need to take the risk of infection seriously. Follow the advice issued by national and local Departments of Health. Although for most people COVID-19 causes only mild illness, it can make some people very ill. More rarely, the disease can be fatal. Older people, and those with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes) appear to be more vulnerable.

Who is at risk of developing severe illness?

While we are still learning about how COVID-2019 affects people, older persons and persons with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes) appear to develop serious illness more often than others.

Are antibiotics effective in preventing or treating the COVID-19?

No. Antibiotics do not work against viruses, they only work on bacterial infections. COVID-19 is caused by a virus, so antibiotics do not work. Antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment of COVID-19. They should only be used as directed by a physician to treat a bacterial infection.

Is there a vaccine, drug or treatment for COVID-19?

Not yet. To date, there is no vaccine and no specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat COVID-2019. However, those affected should receive care to relieve symptoms. People with serious illness should be hospitalised. Most patients recover thanks to supportive care.

Possible vaccines and some specific drug treatments are under investigation. They are being tested through clinical trials. The World Health Organization (WHO) is coordinating efforts to develop vaccines and medicines to prevent and treat COVID-19.

The most effective ways to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 are to frequently clean your hands, cover your cough with the bend of elbow or tissue, and maintain a distance of at least one meter from people who are coughing or sneezing.

Should I wear a mask to protect myself?

People with no respiratory symptoms, such as cough, do not need to wear a mask. The WHO recommends the use of masks for people who have symptoms of COVID-19 and for those caring for individuals who have symptoms, such as cough and fever. The use of masks is crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone (at home or in a healthcare facility).

The most effective ways to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 are to frequently clean your hands, cover your cough with the bend of elbow or tissue and maintain a distance of at least one meter from people who are coughing or sneezing.

How long is the incubation period for COVID-19?

The “incubation period” means the time between catching the virus and beginning to have symptoms of the disease. Most estimates of the incubation period for COVID-19 range from 1-14 days, most commonly around five days.

How long does the virus survive on surfaces?

It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment).

If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitiser. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.

Is it safe to receive a package from any area where COVID-19 has been reported?

Yes. The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.

Is there anything I should not do?

The following measures ARE NOT effective against COVID-2019 and can be harmful:

  • smoking
  • taking traditional herbal remedies
  • wearing multiple masks
  • taking self-medication such as antibiotics

In any case, if you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care early to reduce the risk of developing a more severe infection and be sure to share your recent travel history with your healthcare provider.

How do I get more information and updates?

Call the COVID-19 Hotline: 0800 029 999
Send “hi” on WhatsApp to COVID-19 Connect: 060 012 3456
Visit the website www.sacoronavirus.co.za

COVID-19 and Pregnancy

I am pregnant. Am I at increased risk of COVID-19?

At present, there is no evidence to suggest pregnant women are at greater risk of COVID-19 than the general population. Nonetheless, pregnancy is a time of immune system change so pregnant women should continue with standard precautionary measures such as avoiding crowded places, limiting use of public transport where possible, washing their hands regularly with soap and water, and avoiding touching their face.

Should I still be attending my antenatal clinic visits in light of the COVID-19 epidemic?

Yes, it is important that pregnant women continue to attend their routine antenatal visits to ensure mom and baby’s health are monitored and any chronic conditions are well managed. When attending health facilities, moms should ensure they continue to take all the standard precautions such as handwashing or handsanitising before and after entering the health facility, avoiding touching their face, and coughing or sneezing into a tissue.

Can COVID-19 be transmitted through breastmilk?

There is no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted through breastmilk. The benefits of breastfeeding far outweigh the risks and new mothers are encouraged to exclusively breastfeed for the first six months of their child’s life as long as they are able thereafter.

I have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, but do not have symptoms, can I continue to breastfeed?

Yes, if you have suspected or confirmed COVID-19 you can continue to breastfeed but must take the standard precautions such as washing your hands with soap and water before and after holding your baby, covering your mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and regularly cleaning and disinfecting surfaces that the baby is in contact with.

I am pregnant and have been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. I have no symptoms, but I am worried something might happen to my baby. What should I do?

There is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 increases this risk of miscarriage or preterm birth; however, to keep yourself healthy continue to practice the standard precautions such as washing your hands frequently with soap and water, avoiding touching your face, limiting the use of public transport, and avoiding public gatherings. If you do develop symptoms contact your healthcare practitioner or call the 24-hour COVID-19 helpline on 0800 029 999.

I have tested positive for COVID-19 and am pregnant. Is my baby at risk too?

Because this virus was only recently discovered, we are still learning about the potential impact on the unborn child. In China, pregnant women who were in their 2nd and 3rd trimesters saw no increased risk of birth defects, stillbirth or miscarriage. Additional data are being but for now, there are no data to suggest that COVID-19 can be spread from the mother to the baby when pregnant. New data are available weekly so please discuss with your healthcare provider if you have concerns. Also, look out for danger signs in pregnancy such as bleeding, waters breaking before getting contractions, no movements from baby for four hours or more, severe lower abdominal pains, fits and fast or difficulty in breathing. If you have any of these, consult with your healthcare provider immediately.