20 April 2020
COVID-19 Update: We are here. We are ready.
We are here. We are ready.
There is mounting expectation within the fertility community that the federal government will announce a lifting of the ban on elective surgery and assisted reproduction services (IVF).
QFG has been in preparation for a restart since the announcement of the ban in March: we have taken this opportunity to engage with patients in new ways, maintain continued medical education and introduce safety protocols specific to this pandemic.
QFG recognizes the essential nature of fertility services and is fully prepared for any lifting of the ban.
Patients are encouraged to keep an eye on this website, to follow our social media and to contact their specialists directly.
Medical Director, QFG
As the news about novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to develop, we acknowledge the seriousness of the COVID-19 crisis and the implications for health services in the coming weeks. It is very reasonable to consider whether this is the right time to be embarking on fertility treatment.
Following updated advice from our Medical Directors and the revised position outlined by The Fertility Society of Australia the following outlines how Queensland Fertility Group is responding:
- We will continue to care for fertility patients currently undergoing treatment ie those who are in treatment cycle
- In the interest of public health safety, we encourage those of our patients who were planning to commence a treatment, to consider postponing fertility treatment and staying at home. Each patient should, however, discuss their own situation with their fertility specialist
- There may be patients who, because of their particular medical circumstances, may request to continue treatment at this point. For example fertility preservation patients, who urgently need to freeze eggs and sperm before cancer treatment, their fast-tracked care will understandably continue
Queensland Fertility Group's approach aligns with the Government’s announcement on 25 March that all elective surgery is to be suspended other than category 1 and urgent category 2 cases. For clarity, IVF cycles in stimulation (including patients about to be triggered) are included in category 1. Any patients who do not come within category 1 should seek the advice of their specialist as to whether they can commence treatment.
The Fertility Society of Australia updated advice 25 March 2020 appreciates the needs of individuals seeking assistance to conceive or preserve their fertility but also acknowledges that the overarching responsibility currently is to all patients as part of the Australian and New Zealand healthcare system.
The Fertility Society of Australia therefore recommends that, in the interest of public safety, patients who are planning to start fertility treatment consult with their treating specialist and discuss the appropriateness of postponing their treatment.
The Fertility Society of Australia recognises that there may be medical circumstances where delaying treatment may not be advisable and treating specialists should advise their patients if there are medical grounds to commence treatment now.
Many of the long-term effects of COVID-19 are still not clear. The number of pregnant women who have contracted COVID-19 and have subsequently delivered is small. The results are reassuring, including no evidence of mother-to-baby transmission during pregnancy. Currently available evidence does not suggest serious consequences for young children or women in pregnancy. However, as the situation is still emerging, these results require cautious optimism.
Our advice is that unaffected and low risk patients going through assisted reproduction (such as IVF) will not be at any higher risk of complications than anyone else in the population.
The current recommendations from The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists are reassuring and state:
“At this time, pregnant women do not appear to be more severely unwell if they develop COVID-19 infection than the general population. It is expected that the large majority of pregnant women will experience only mild or moderate cold/flu like symptoms."
In line with current recommendations if a woman who is trying to conceive or in early pregnancy develops an infection COVID-19 or otherwise, they are advised to take Panadol to minimise their fever and seek advice from their doctor.
If you have to withdraw from fertility treatment because of an actual or suspected COVID-19 exposure before the egg collection, NO out of pocket costs will be charged by Queensland Fertility Group (for Medicare eligible patients only).