A pregnant woman with Covid gave birth by emergency caesarean section at 28 weeks so she could be placed on ventilation at a Sydney hospital.
Guardian Australia understands that the woman’s newborn child was taken to a separate hospital with better neonatal care resources and placed into an incubator.
The caesarean section was performed on the baby’s mother who was in intensive care with Covid and needed to be placed on a ventilator as her condition worsened.
The incident occurred in August in a hospital in Sydney’s west. The child’s Covid status and the mother’s condition are unclear.
Guardian Australia put questions about the incident to NSW Health, but their response did not address it specifically.
The case follows a pregnant woman in Newcastle being admitted to ICU with Covid after she was unable to get a vaccine appointment.
The incident comes as a special ward for entire families with Covid has been established at Liverpool hospital (not where the woman was treated), at the centre of Sydney’s outbreak, amid increasing transmission among children and new mothers in NSW.
The federal government has acknowledged pregnant women are a priority group for the Pfizer vaccine, however until recently, Australians under 40 were not eligible for the Atagi-preferred vaccine, meaning newly pregnant women were commonly unvaccinated.
NSW Health would not provide a figure of how many pregnant women are currently being treated for Covid in hospitals.
Meanwhile, Guardian Australia understands that Liverpool hospital’s children’s ward was in recent days converted into a Covid-only facility for families with children, with infected families in the west of Sydney directed there by protocol.
The decision means that for households where everyone has Covid, families will be treated together, instead of Covid-positive but symptomless kids taking up beds in children’s hospitals while their parents are treated in adult wards.
“You can’t send them home because they have no one to care for them, so now the rooms will accommodate families,” a healthcare worker familiar with the change but not authorised to speak to media said.
While the change has only recently come into effect, Guardian Australia understands nursing mothers with Covid have already been admitted to the Liverpool children’s ward in recent days.
The Liverpool children’s ward is now Covid-only, with staff reporting instances of children presenting to the emergency department with illnesses including appendicitis, being refused admission and referred to other hospitals because they returned a negative Covid swab.
Guardian Australia also understands that individual air conditioning units have been installed in rooms on the Liverpool children’s ward to reduce the risk of Covid transmission to other parts of the hospital.
Aside from Liverpool, Westmead Children’s hospital is understood to be the designated facility to accept child ICU patients with Covid.
On Wednesday, 207 of the 1,480 new Covid cases were in children aged under 10, while 214 cases were aged between 10 and 19. Last week, Sydney Children’s hospital network confirmed three children with Covid-19 were in intensive care, while about 2,000 children with Covid were receiving some form of care.
A NSW Health spokesperson said the “safety of mothers and babies is a priority for NSW Health, especially during the current Covid-19 outbreak”.
“Care planning for pregnant women takes into consideration any risk factors that are identified, and an individualised care plan is developed.”
The spokesperson did not answer how many pregnant women were hospitalised with Covid, or whether pregnant women with Covid were being transferred to a central facility for care.
When asked whether a specific hospital has been set up for young Covid patients, the spokesperson reiterated that 2,000 children with Covid were receiving some form of hospital care.
“These include the 24/7 health service, VirtualKids which is providing healthcare virtually and in person to children who have tested positive for Covid-19 but are well enough to be cared for at home, a ‘Home in Hospital’ service to care for children whose parents or carers have been hospitalised with Covid-19 and who may also be Covid-19 positive themselves, and inpatient services for Covid-positive children and young.”