PREGNANT women are warned to take extra care as the coronavirus crisis grips Britain.
The UK government has now classed expectant mothers as those among the "vulnerable" group of society at risk of Covid-19.
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Professor Chris Whitty, England's Chief Medical Officer, said that including pregnant women in this group was a "precautionary measure" as experts are "early in our understanding of this virus".
And his deputy, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, said it's hoped that these new measures will reduce the infection rate and protect those at higher risk.
He told the BBC: "When it comes to this coronavirus, it is a new disease, it's been with humans around the world for just a few months.
"We are being very precautionary in terms of the advice we are giving to pregnant women to increase their social distancing.
"We know that a whole range of normal infections are more serious in pregnancy and the advice we're giving is extremely precautionary."
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He added: "The early signal, and it is only an early signal, is that the highest risk is only going to be towards the end of the third trimester, so from the 34th week, that kind of position in the pregnancy.
"But we are being very precautionary and saying that because we don't know enough about this disease yet.
"We haven't got enough information on the disease in pregnant women, that the best thing to do is take a precautionary approach and advise social distancing and to identify that this is strongly advised for pregnant women as a whole group."
What's the risk to pregnant women?
According to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), the large majority of women will experience only mild or moderate symptoms.
These include a cough, fever and shortness of breath.
More severe symptoms, such as pneumonia, are widely described in older people and those with underlying conditions.
However, they say that these symptoms could occur in pregnant women, and have advised healthcare professionals that these should be identified and treated promptly.
So far, there has been just one reported case of a woman with Covid-19 who required mechanical ventilation at 30 weeks’ pregnant, following which she had an emergency caesarean section and made a good recovery, they noted.
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