An expectant mother has been advised against returning to the UK to give birth due to coronavirus fears and will instead do so in the Netherlands.
Rebecca Sharkey, 35, is 33 weeks into a high-risk pregnancy. She and her partner were originally working and living in Milan, but were forced to move after Italy’s Covid-19 outbreak began to overcrowd the hospitals.
Ms Sharkey, who is from London, and her partner, Job Smeets, from the Netherlands, had hoped to return to the UK but were warned by Ms Sharkey’s sister to stay where she is.
The couple were in Italy when they discovered the pregnancy was high risk, and Ms Sharkey was unable to travel back to the UK, so they originally planned to remain in Milan and have the baby there.
Ms Sharkey told the PA news agency: “The hospitals became overcrowded and full of coronavirus patients in Milan, so my doctor called and advised us to leave Italy as soon as possible, despite the risk of me travelling.
“So we drove through the night to come to Holland and are now staying here and hoping the hospital here will take me in – I think they will, which is great.
“My sister works for the NHS in the UK and she warned me they’re already starting to overcrowd there so if I can stay put in Holland I’m safer.
“It’s been like a bad dream – not at all how I imagined having my first baby to have been. I planned to be that really relaxed, yoga-class, social pregnant person and have my baby surrounded by family.
“My mum is a retired gynaecologist in the UK and she’s likely not able to travel for the birth with the new travel restrictions coming in. I really wanted my parents, especially my mum, to be there when I had my first baby.”
Holland has been placed on lockdown, with shops and restaurants shut.
Ms Sharkey said she worries no-one will be able to visit when the baby is born, due to the risk of transmitting the coronavirus.
She and Mr Smeets are both self-isolating, and only having the midwife over and doctors’ appointments by phone.
A newborn baby in England tested positive for the virus on Saturday and is believed to be one of the world’s youngest patients with the disease.
Victoria Cameron, 43, from Glasgow, is due to give birth to her first child on April 3 and has decided to stay inside as much as possible.
Miss Cameron said: “I had a bad cold back in January and remember thinking at the time if I’d had this while pregnant I would not have been able to push. I can’t imagine having the coronavirus whilst giving birth.
“All my antenatal classes have been cancelled, as has my breastfeeding class. We were told we’d have to learn via YouTube videos, but that is hard because you can’t ask questions to Google.
“I am quite nervous as this is my first pregnancy so I like to be able to ask questions. I understand why they have done it but I want to be as prepared as possible.”
Miss Cameron also works as a food photographer and runs the social media accounts of a number of restaurants.
She said: “My main worries at the moment are financial. I have seen what has happened elsewhere and I know that if we end up with a shutdown, my work is the first thing my clients will cut to save money.
“I am moving back in with my parents so I can rent out my flat and make sure the mortgage is covered.
“But they are older, so then I am worried about the risk to them, and the newborn baby.”