Medical facilities in Okinawa strengthen partnerships to care for surging numbers of pregnant COVID-19 patients

Medical facilities in Okinawa strengthen partnerships to care for surging numbers of pregnant COVID-19 patients

January 21, 2022 Ryukyu Shimpo

By Takuya Kayo


New cases of COVID-19 are spreading among all age groups, and one group in which cases are surging is pregnant individuals. During the fifth wave of infections between August 1-29 of last year, 162 pregnant individuals contracted COVID 19. As of January 20 of this year, the number of pregnant COVID-19 patients was 184. Twenty-one of these individuals were hospitalized as of January 19.


In addition to the handling of general COVID-19 cases, for pregnant patients, major medical facilities partner with each individual’s primary OB-GYN to create a system that can provide medical examinations. Doctor Keiko Mekaru is the head of the perinatal and maternal care center at the University of the Ryukyus Hospital. She encourages patients to be calm, saying, “Even if you are pregnant and test positive or are in close contact with a COVID-positive individual, don’t panic. Consult your primary doctor.”


Since the start of the pandemic, 564 pregnant people have contracted COVID-19. Further analysis is required to say whether these individuals are at increased risk of severe COVID.

The database that monitors pregnant individuals who have been admitted to hospitals in Okinawa (Provided image)

After consulting their primary doctor, the pregnant individual will be sent to a designated hospital for the infectious disease if there is obstetric risk. The hospital staff will determine whether the individual should be hospitalized or recuperate at home on the basis of their COVID symptoms and whether there is a chance of preterm delivery. Individuals who need to give birth are sent to Okinawa Chubu Central Hospital or to the University of the Ryukyus Hospital.


The Okinawa Prefectural Nambu Medical Center and Children’s Medical Center and the Okinawa Red Cross Hospital are accepting pregnant individuals with risks other than COVID-19. These partnerships are the result of independent work by the Okinawa Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Okinawa Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. There have been inquiries from other prefectures regarding the partnerships.


Doctor Mekaru says, “Pregnant individuals and their families should behave in such a way that they won’t be infected. I also hope that pregnant individuals will consider getting the vaccine, because we expect the vaccine to be effective at preventing severe COVID-19, even against the Omicron variant.”


(English translation by T&CT and Ellen Huntley)

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