Mary Agyeiwaa Agyapong underwent an emergency Caesarean section to deliver and save her baby girl, who survived and was treated.
The 28-year-old boy tested positive for the virus on April 5. She had a cesarean shortly after her hospitalization on April 7, but died on Sunday.
Channel 4 said it was working until March 4 at least. The hospital said they followed official guidelines and did not treat patients with coronavirus.
It is not known if she was infected while she was still working, or if the baby contracted Covid-19. It is understood that her husband isolates himself.
Colleagues from Agyapong at Luton Hospital and Dunstable University said she was “a fabulous nurse and a great example of what we stand for.” NHS Trust executive director David Carter said his little daughter’s survival was a “beacon of light in this very dark time.”
Organizations supporting pregnant women have told the Guardian that hundreds of health workers are told they have to work – sometimes without personal protective equipment – even if they fear for their unborn children.
The Guardian heard from health assistants, nursing home workers, nurses, physiotherapists and NHS educators who, in many cases, capitulated to the pressure of work, or took unpaid leave or sickness benefit.
Pregnant nurses and caregivers said they work in direct contact with patients who test positive or suspected of having Covid-19, despite government directives to classify them as a vulnerable group. “We are disgusted with the treatment and the stress they put on us during this already stressful time,” said a medical assistant.
Pressure groups and charities, including Pregnant Then Screwed (PTS) and Maternity Action, wrote to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (RCOG) urging him to change his guidelines, according to which pregnant women under 28 weeks may continue to non-Covid roles facing the patient if necessary precautions are taken. More than 50,000 people signed a petition asking for clarity and paid leave for pregnant workers.
Some pregnant women are “enlightened” by bosses and sometimes colleagues to go to work on the front line, with a number of health trusts interpreting RCOG guidelines differently, said Joeli Brearley, founder and director of PTS.
“These women are really scared,” said Brearley. “Because it is defined as the choice of a woman, it seriously worries women who do not want to go to work but who have the impression of not wanting to help during this crisis. “
An emergency room theater nurse, who is 18 weeks pregnant and has miscarried five times, said she had been redeployed to a “clean” intensive care unit for non-Covid-19 patients, but that it has since treated very poorly ventilated patients awaiting Covid- 19 test results. When she asked to be redeployed, she was told that she should go on sick leave despite a letter from her general practitioner.
“I am not the only pregnant nurse working in my area, none of us have been treated with respect since the Covid epidemic,” said the 26-year-old. “I am disappointed with the NHS. The staff is not at all protected. “
In a recent survey of 3,004 pregnant women by PTS, 34% of the 261 pregnant NHS workers who participated said they were still working and worried about their safety. Legally, all employers must conduct a risk assessment for pregnant workers and, if they cannot eliminate the risk of infection, find another role, or suspend full pay. It is illegal for employers to force workers to take sick leave, vacation, or leave without pay.
In recent days, 111 workers who were at home at full pay have been told their workplace is safe, said Brearley. A 37-year-old woman, pregnant after her “last chance” of IVF, said she was told to return to work the day she received the call. “Now I’m venturing into the worst of the pandemic in the worst situation I can think of,” she said. His general practitioner told him that all NHS workers were scared and worried, but that they “continued” before asking him not to contact the office again. “I felt incredibly guilty,” she said.
Rosalind Bragg, director of Maternity Action, said that its helpline answered calls from healthcare workers, especially caregivers, who were illegally forced to take sick leave. She said the lack of clear government directives and the lack of consequences for illegally acting employers exacerbated the problem.
An RCOG spokesperson said his guidelines were supported by British chief medical officers and that existing labor laws “should help ensure that… pregnant women during the first two trimesters of pregnancy avoid, in wherever possible, to treat patients with suspected or confirmed coronavirus infection ”.
The guidance for the RCOG is being updated to make it clear that pregnant women should not have to continue working without a risk assessment and that suitable alternative work should be offered, said the spokesperson.