Sri Lankan women were urged to delay conceiving after more than 40 mothers-to-be died of COVID-19 in four months, the health ministry said Thursday.
The island country, which registered its first maternal coronavirus death in May, is experiencing a spike in infections with Delta variants after travel restrictions were eased in mid-April for local New Year celebrations.
“Usually we have 90 to 100 maternal deaths per year, but since the start of the third wave, we have recorded 41 deaths of pregnant women from Covid alone,” Chitramali de Silva, a director of the government’s health promotion agency, told AFP.
Government obstetrician and gynecologist Harsha Atapattu said he urged “newlyweds, as well as those trying to have a baby, to delay it by at least a year due to the risks of Covid-19”.
De Silva said about 5,500 expectant mothers were infected. About 70 percent were fully vaccinated, he added.
Experts have urged pregnant women to get the jab, with Sri Lankan health officials saying the Delta variant appears to increase their risk of serious symptoms.
The nation of 21 million people has been slightly locked up since August and the government expects to lift it by mid-September.
But experts from the World Health Organization in Sri Lanka have called for stricter restrictions until early October.
Hospitals have been overwhelmed during the wave, despite efforts to speed up the vaccination campaign, with nearly half of the total population receiving two doses.
Sri Lanka has recorded nearly 475,000 infections and more than 10,500 deaths from Covid-19, but doctors say the actual numbers could be much higher due to underreporting.
(This story was not edited by NewsMadura staff and was generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)