Mary Agyeiwaa Agyapong, a 28-year-old nurse in Luton, England, died on April 12 from COVID-19 complications, seven days after testing positive for the novel coronavirus, BBC News reports. Doctors delivered Agyapong’s child successfully via cesarean section before she died.

On April 7, two days after testing positive for COVID-19, Agyapong, who was eight months pregnant with her first child, was admitted to Luton and Dunstable University Hospital, where she had worked for five years.

The hospital reports that Agyapong was not treating COVID-19 patients and hadn’t been to work since March 12th. Her husband is currently quarantined at home with COVID-19 symptoms.

Just as in the United States, Black women in the United Kingdom are more likely to die from pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum complications than white women. According to the UK Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths, between 2014 and 2016, Black women were five times as likely to die from these complications than white women.

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While CDC guidelines for pregnant nurses and other health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t extensive—and there is no information on whether pregnant people are at greater risk of contracting the virus or if they are more likely to have a serious illness as a result, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Midwives released the following updated guidelines in early April:

  • Updated guidance emphasises that pregnant women of any gestation should be offered the choice of whether to work in direct patient-facing roles during the coronavirus pandemic
  • Women who are less than 28 weeks pregnant should practise social distancing but can choose to continue working in a patient-facing role, provided the necessary precautions are taken
  • Women who are more than 28 weeks pregnant, or have underlying health conditions, should avoid direct patient contact and it is recommended that they stay at home

Since Agyapong’s death, more pregnant nurses and other health care workers are speaking up about mistreatment they’re facing and are demanding that the health department do something about it. Pregnant Then Screwed put together a resource list with updates on how COVID-19 is impacting pregnant people, it includes a Know Your Rights document that supports people in getting their needs met at work. 

GoFundMe has been set up for Mary Agyeiwaa Agyapong’s family.

ESSENCE is committed to bringing our audience the latest facts about COVID-19 (coronavirus). Our content team is closely monitoring the developing details surrounding the virus via official sources and health care experts, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Please continue to refresh ESSENCE’s informational hub for updates on COVID-19, as well as for tips on taking care of yourselves, your families and your communities.


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