No touching family members and masks at home – Good advice for pregnant women during the Coronavirus pandemic or excessive caution?
Japan’s NHK recently publicised advice that is specifically designed to help pregnant women avoid catching Coronavirus. It was put together by Hikaru Kiyokawa, an obstetrician at Japanese Red Cross Osaka Hospital, with the supervision by an infectious disease specialist. It contains eight points you should be careful about.
Although noting that there is not medical evidence to suggest that pregnant women are more susceptible to Coronavirus than others, Dr Kiyokawa says that her aim in the pamphlet is to help reduce pregnant women’s anxiety by letting them know what they should be careful about.
- Avoid touching members of your family who spend time out of the house. Also, as much as possible (and especially after 36 weeks), have food and sleep separately . If difficult, consider using a partition or curtain to separate the room between you and other family members.
- The family members of pregnant women should wear masks even when they are at home.
- Take a bath before anyone else. (This is applicable in Japanese households, where it is usual for family members to share the same bathwater. )
- Use your own towel, rather than sharing it.
- Wash your hands frequently. (Wash hands when you come back into the house. You should do this for more than 20 seconds using soap, or use disinfectant containing alcohol. Do not touch your eyes, nose, and mouth without washing your hands first.)
- Ventilate rooms by opening the windows once every few hours, for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Wipe doorknobs and handrails to disinfect common-use spaces. (You can use alcohol for sterilization or commercially available chlorine bleach for household use. Put gloves and a mask on when you use it.)
- Ask a family member to throw rubbish away for you. If you need to do it yourself, put gloves and a mask on.
More generally, the pamphlet recommends that, to monitor you and your family’s health, you should regularly check temperatures. Also, refrain from any nonessential and non-urgent outings. When you have continuous symptoms, consult your doctor.
Lastly, if you have any questions, please ask your doctor, rather than relying on information from social media.
What do you think about this advice? Does it seem excessive?
Many non-Japanese might be particularly surprised by numbers 1 and 2. This can be explained by cultural differences. Specifically, within Japan, we don’t tend to touch people as much as in other cultures. Also, we are very used to wearing masks, even at home. For these reasons, Dr. Kiyokawa’s advice does not seem so hard to follow for Japanese people.
Similarly, I know some medical workers who changes their clothes immediately after they get back to the house. Some people even take a bath immediately after they get home.
In the NHK article, the doctor says “mothers who are going to give birth to the future are stars of hope in the world, and we want to protect the stars.”
I completely agree with her comment. At this difficult time, we are thinking of all the pregnant women!