Amid curfew in the districts adjoining Chandigarh, pregnant women are having harrowing time as an already burdened health infrastructure deals with the pandemic. While cities are locked down, these women are being forced to travel from one government hospital to another only to be referred to Chandigarh.

Writhing in labour pain, Jaspal Kaur, a 31-year-old pregnant woman, reached a health centre in Kurali at 3am on March 25, only to be referred to Kharar at 9am because, apparently, “the doctor had not arrived”. At 1pm, she was referred again to the Government Multi-Speciality Hospital in Sector 16 citing “blood level is too low”.

Requesting the authorities “not to refuse them at the last moment, Kaur said, “We have great trust in you, but when the time (of delivery) comes, you ask us to leave and find another hospital. Amid such circumstances, it becomes difficult to make arrangements last moment.”

Breaching all precautionary measures to be taken against coronavirus infection, a 25-year-old Sarita Devi was made to wait outside an ESI hospital in Baddi for four hours as the hospital reluctantly agreed to arrange for transporting her to Chandigarh. This, after the hospital staff earlier refused to attend to her, citing “non-availability of labour inducing drug”.

Tired and on the verge of a breakdown, Sarita said, “My delivery was scheduled for today, but at noon I was asked to go to Chandigarh. I waited till 4pm outside the hospital and it was after much reluctance that they arranged for an ambulance.” It was learned that the doctor there was unavailable.s

Similar was the case of Neetu Devi of Bulongi, Mohali, whose delivery was scheduled at Mohali civil hospital, but she was referred to Chandigarh at the last moment. Rinky, a 30-year-old pregnant woman, was referred from Dera Bassi civil hospital to Mohali, and from there to the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, and yet again to Mohali, She finally came to GMSH-16.


The gynaecology department of GMSH-16 conducts on an average 10,000 deliveries a year. “In routine, we have around 40 admissions to the labour room, which has now reduced to 20. But we are still receiving a lot of referrals,” said Dr Amandeep Kang, head of the gynaecology department.

In January, there were 195 referrals from three districts—Mohali (130) , Ropar (64) and Fatehgarh Sahib (1)—and in February, the number was 135. In the last 10 days, the hospital has seen 40 referrals, out of which 26 are from Punjab.

“Amid curfew, it becomes difficult for families to look after patients and newborns. They have to make frequent visits to the hospital,” she said.


“According to the guideline issued by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, pregnant women are equally at risk just like the normal population. There is no documented evidence of transmission from mother to baby in the womb and neither via breast milk,” Dr Kang said.

She advised pregnant women to restrict going out, maintain social distancing, take good diet and multi-vitamins and do moderate exercise.

“Due to the pandemic, they should avoid routine check-ups, and visit hospitals only in case of emergencies like labour pains, bleeding or leakage. If you are suffering from dry cough and sudden onset of high grade fever, you should visit a healthcare facility immediately,” she said.

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