Top health official: British coronavirus variant putting pregnant women at greater risk

The Health Ministry’s head of public health services, Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, warns more pregnant women are being infected with the British coronavirus variant and are at greater risk of developing serious symptoms.

“There is a different kind of contagion. I’ll just mention the [issue of the British variant] and pregnant women. The rates [of contagion among pregnant women] are much higher than they were. That’s why we changed our recommendation [and said that pregnant women should get vaccinated],” she tells Channel 12.

“And that’s why we’re also asking for samples from all hospitals where there are pregnant women in serious and critical condition [with COVID] in order to track this. In the five such cases where we were able to check to date, they were [infected with] the British variant. There is a certain change in the nature of the pandemic.”

She warns that pregnant women are at high risk because of the variant.

Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis. (Courtesy)

Alroy-Preis says the British variant is also fueling high infection rates among the ultra-Orthodox.

“There is very high contagion in the ultra-Orthodox community. Part of this is from the British variant… It began there more, and now it is spreading. It started there… And it’s much more contagious”

Alroy-Preis says the prime minister’s pledge to reopen cultural venues and live entertainment in two weeks was not coordinated with her, but may have been discussed with other health officials.

The senior health official also addresses the possibility that Israel’s March 23 election will be held amid high infection rates around the country.

Asked whether the vote could be held under such conditions, she says: “It depends on how you organize them.”

If people could vote from home, or online, “that would be better” for public health, she says. “If we’re in a situation where we have thousands of confirmed cases [a day] and they have to let them go out, that will be very challenging.

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