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AP Photos: Women with COVID give birth alone in Peru

Before she gave birth in Peru’s largest maternity hospital, María Alvarez closed her eyes and made one request through her face mask.

“Where’s my husband?″ she said. “I want my husband to come.″

But the baby’s father, Marco Martínez, had died a month before from the novel coronavirus.

Olinda Tafur, 20, lies on an examination table as she waits to be seen by obstetrician Dr. Osvaldo Sierra, inside a red tent set up in the emergency area of the National Perinatal and Maternal Institute to receive women in labor who are infected with COVID-19 , in Lima, Peru, Wednesday, July 29, 2020. Just before giving birth to her first child, Tafur learned that she had tested positive for the new coronavirus upon arriving with labor pains to the emergency area of the Institute. (AP PhotoRodrigo Abd)

María, who had an asymptomatic case of the virus, was giving birth to her first child, a daughter, at 24 in a special ward for mothers with COVID-19.

Peru’s National Perinatal and Maternal Institute has dedicated about half its facilities to care for infected pregnant women. Between April and the start of August, more than 2,000 infected patients gave birth there, with 120 newborns testing positive.

One in four people in Peru’s capital of 10 million people could be infected with the coronavirus, according to a study published by health authorities in July, with more than 483,000 confirmed infected across the country of 32 million and more than 21,000 dead.

A woman looks out from a coronavirus isolation pod as she is transferred to a special ward for mothers with COVID-19 at the National Perinatal and Maternal Institute in Lima, Peru, Wednesday, July 29, 2020. Better known as the Maternity Hospital, the Institute has dedicated about half its facilities to care for pregnant women infected with the virus. (AP PhotoRodrigo Abd)

Despite wearing personal protective equipment and taking other measures to avoid infection, 400 of the 2,000 workers in the institute have also been infected, said its director, Enrique Guevara.

The institute has barred partners or other relatives from attending births, and pregnant women are moved through the hospital in wheeled beds protected by transparent covers to block the virus from spreading.

Martínez returned to Peru in November after five years working in an electronics store in Chile.

A healthcare worker helps a fellow obstetrician receive a phone call making her rounds in a special ward for mothers with COVID-19, at the National Perinatal and Maternal Institute, in Lima, Peru, Thursday, July 9, 2020. Despite wearing personal protective equipment and taking other measures to avoid infection, 400 of the 2000 Institute's workers have also been infected, said its director, Enrique Guevara. (AP PhotoRodrigo Abd)

Alvarez became pregnant, and after the coronavirus hit Peru, both went to work for a friend sewing face masks.

Martínez became ill and died in June. Alvarez took a test that came back positive, but never experienced symptoms.

She felt contractions on July 29, and rushed to the hospital with a set of blue clothing for the boy that doctors had said was coming. To her surprise, she gave birth to a girl.

A healthcare worker measures the body temperature of Luisita Hermosillo, 32, as part of an initial check to identify if she is infected with the new coronavirus, at an entry pointy set up to receive pregnant women at the National Perinatal and Maternal Institute in Lima, Peru, Thursday, July 9, 2020. Because the Institute has barred partners or other relatives from attending births, women are giving birth alone. (AP PhotoRodrigo Abd)

Days after giving birth, as she recovered in her isolated bed, she said she had still not decided what to name her daughter.

“What I know,″ she said. ’’Is that I don’t want her to suffer like her mother and father.″

Maria Alvarez, 24, center, sits with other mothers who are infected with the new coronavirus, as they wait to be handed their babies before being discharged at the National Perinatal and Maternal Institute in Lima, Peru, Thursday, July 30, 2020. Between April and the start of August, more than 2,000 infected patients gave birth there, with more than 100 newborns testing positive. (AP PhotoRodrigo Abd)

A newborn baby cries lying in a crib lined with a red plastic sheet to identify babies whose mothers are infected with the new coronavirus, at the National Perinatal and Maternal Institute in Lima, Peru, Thursday, July 30, 2020. On April 4, the Institute detected their first COVID-19 case, but as the months passed the number increased. In July, 30% of the pregnant women seen during daily consultations tested positive for the virus, said the Institute's director Enrique Guevara. (AP PhotoRodrigo Abd)

Maria Alvarez, 24, nine months pregnant, lies on an examination table in an isolated holding area of the National Perinatal and Maternal Institute reserved for women in labor infected with the new coronavirus, in Lima, Peru, Wednesday, July 29, 2020. Alvarez learned that she was infected with the virus during a check for COVID-19 at the Institute's entry point, set up in a tent to receive pregnant women. (AP PhotoRodrigo Abd)

Maria Alvarez, 24, shows a picture of herself with her late husband Marco Martinez who died from the new coronavirus in June, while resting in the home of a friend who has offered her a place to stay, in Lima, Peru, Monday, Aug. 10, 2020. Martinez returned to Peru in November after five years working in an electronics store in Chile. Alvarez became pregnant, and after the coronavirus hit Peru, both went to work for a friend sewing face masks. (AP PhotoRodrigo Abd)

Maria Alvarez, 24, pushes while giving birth in a special ward for mothers infected with COVID-19, at the National Perinatal and Maternal Institute, in Lima, Peru, Wednesday, July 29, 2020. Before she gave birth, Maria closed her eyes and made one request through her face mask. “Where's my husband,'' she said. “I want my husband to come.'' But the baby's father had died a month before from the novel coronavirus. (AP PhotoRodrigo Abd)

Maria Alvarez, 24, waits to be handed her newborn baby girl as an obstetrician and neonatologist clamp the baby's umbilical cord, at the National Maternal Perinatal Institute in Lima, Peru, Wednesday, July 29, 2020. Alvarez, who had an asymptomatic case of the new coronavirus virus, gave birth to her first child in a special ward for mothers infected with COVID-19. (AP PhotoRodrigo Abd)

A neonatologist examines Maria Alvarez's newborn baby girl at the National Maternal Perinatal Institute in an isolated area reserved for mothers infected with COVID-19, in Lima, Peru, Wednesday, July 29, 2020. The 24-year-old first-time mother wept during her labor not just from pain, but because the baby would be born without her father. The baby's father died from the new coronavirus in June. (AP PhotoRodrigo Abd)

A nurse records the footprints of a newborn baby boy in an isolated area reserved for birthing mothers infected with COVID-19, at the National Maternal Perinatal Institute in Lima, Peru, Thursday, July 9, 2020. Between April and the start of August, more than 2,000 COVID-19 infected expectant mothers gave birth, with over a 100 newborns testing positive. (AP PhotoRodrigo Abd)

Maria Alvarez, 24, rests in a coronavirus isolation pod after giving birth at the National Perinatal and Maternal Institute in Lima, Peru, Wednesday, July 29, 2020. Feeling continuous contractions, Alvarez arrived at the Institute with a set of blue clothing for the boy that doctors had said was coming. To her surprise, she gave birth to a girl. (AP PhotoRodrigo Abd)

Maria Alvarez, 24, sits on a sofa holding her 1-day-old daughter, in an isolated area reserved for mothers with COVID-19, at the National Maternal Perinatal Institute, in Lima, Peru, Thursday, July 30, 2020. Alvarez faces the burden of raising her daughter on her own because the baby's father died of the new coronavirus in June. (AP PhotoRodrigo Abd)

A nurse admits an expectant mother who tested positive for the new coronavirus at an entry checkpoint set up outside the emergency entrance of the National Maternal Perinatal Institute, in Lima, Peru, Wednesday, July 29, 2020. Between April and the start of August, more than 2,000 infected patients gave birth there, with over 100 newborns testing positive. (AP PhotoRodrigo Abd)

A red plastic sheet used to identify newborn babies whose mothers are infected with the new coronavirus sits balled up in a wheelchair at the National Perinatal and Maternal Institute in Lima, Peru, Wednesday, July 29, 2020. On April 4, the Institute detected their first COVID-19 case, but as the months passed the number increased. (AP PhotoRodrigo Abd)

Accompanied by her husband, Carmen Garcia, 43, cradles her newborn baby delivered in a special ward for mothers with COVID-19, as they leave the National Maternal Perinatal Institute, in Lima, Peru, Thursday, July 9, 2020. The Institute, better known as Maternity Hospital, has dedicated about half its facilities to care for infected pregnant women. (AP PhotoRodrigo Abd)

Dr. Osvaldo Sierra gauges the cervical dilation of Maria Novella inside a red tent set up to receive expectant mothers who have tested positive for the new coronavirus, at the National Maternal Perinatal Institute, in Lima, Peru, Thursday, July 9, 2020. Pregnant women are being forced to give birth alone as the Institute, like many hospitals, has barred partners or other relatives from attending births. (AP PhotoRodrigo Abd)

A nurse receives an expectant mother at an entry checkpoint who must be tested for COVID-19 before she can be admitted, outside the emergency entrance of the National Maternal Perinatal Institute, in Lima, Peru, Wednesday, July 29, 2020. The Institute has dedicated about half its facilities to care for infected pregnant women. (AP PhotoRodrigo Abd)

Maria Alvarez, 24, cradles her 6-day-old daughter, in the home of friend who has offered her a place to stay, in Lima, Peru, Tuesday, Aug 4, 2020. Alvarez has still not decided on her daughter's name who she must now raise on her own because the baby's father died in June from the new coronavirus. "What I am clear about is that I don't want her to suffer like her father and mother," she said. (AP PhotoRodrigo Abd)