Should pregnant women be in a high-risk COVID-19 category?

02 October 2020
6 min read
Volume 28 · Issue 10


In the early stages of the pandemic, pregnant women were categorised high risk in several countries and advised to take extra precautions. This article examines the effect of this categorisation.

As COVID-19 spread round the world in early 2020, most governments introduced lockdown measures to reduce social interactions and so reduce the transmission of the virus. In some countries, including the UK (Cabinet Office, 2020), USA (Centres for Disease Control [CDC], 2020), and Canada (Government of Canada 2020), pregnant women were included in a high or higher risk category and were advised to take extra measures to protect themselves and their unborn foetuses. This article will examine why pregnant women were included in this higher risk category and whether such categorisation was beneficial.

In the UK, the lockdown was announced at a press briefing by the Prime Minister on 16 March (Johnson, 2020). At this briefing, Professor Chris Witty (2020) the government's chief medical officer, justified the inclusion of pregnant women in the high-risk category in the following way: ‘there is no evidence from other coronaviruses that this is a particularly dangerous virus as, for example, the Zika virus was particularly dangerous to pregnant women, but infections and pregnancy is not a good combination in general and that is why we have taken a very precautionary measure, whilst we find out more’.

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