An unparalleled condition with substantial unusual modifications due to the spreading of COVID-19 across the globe impacts the whole healthcare system along with the financial and social system. The nationwide emergency brought lockdown and only essential services are permissible to control the pandemic situation. Worldwide fertility clinics’ activity becomes stagnant because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Patients who are undergoing fertility treatment lost treatment because of the sudden and abrupt closing of fertility clinics. The patients who are under an ongoing cycle and unable to stop their treatment led to cryopreserve their embryo in an IVF cycle without a fresh embryo transfer. All over the globe along with India try hard to stop the escalation of the COVID-19 incidence rate and settle down the health crisis. It has been expected that the Indian government will soon be relaxed and resume non-essential health services once the condition becomes settle. Various, national and local guidelines are developed to restart the full-fledged fertility clinic activity.
All the fertility treatment seekers want to resume the ART services along with battling against the COVID-19 pandemic. Fertility experts assume that recommencing the ART procedure during this COVID-19 pandemic could lead to many consequences because of the uncertain impact of COVID-19 on pregnancy and fetus development. Patients who will undergo ART services in the current situation might always have psychological stress about the risk of COVID-19 infection as well as safety issues on the pregnancy.
Still, it is unknown the impact of COVID-19 on the ART procedures, and patients may become taxing financially and emotionally. Therefore, all the ART clinics must be very much careful about all the difficulties they will face after resuming the activities. All the ART clinics must be prepare strategies to minimize the risk of spreading of infection and ensure to serve high-quality patient care during the whole treatment period.
Currently, 1866 ART clinics and gametes and embryo banks in India have the National Registry of ART clinics and banks. All these clinics in the country should have strict vigilance of ART services. The authority should take careful steps to promote safe practices and minimize the risk related to COVID-19 infection spreading. Both staff and patients should meticulously follow all the guidelines that are formulated on a national level. All ART clinics across the country must avoid any gap between the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to be followed during this pandemic.
Some of the ART services are slowly recommencing in India. But the arrival of second-wave or localized lockdowns causes uncertainty. ART service centers in India are working on prioritizing the requirement which can be deliverable. However, we cannot omit the fear of re-closure of clinics due to the worsening of the situation. Considering all such situations, ICMR recommends to the ART clinics that they should follow guidelines that are advised by local and national Governments based upon situational aspects.
The resuming of ART clinics in India need to precede the following steps
- Inform Patients of every aspect of ART commencing in the current situation along with counsel them accordingly
- Informed consenting is essential before starting the treatment
- ART Clinic staff and patients risk assessment triage
- ART clinic layout modification and amendment of necessary services like screening for COVID-19 for every patient and clinic staff.
- Individualized treatment planning