Lanka asks women to delay pregnancy over COVID risks

Sri Lankan women were urged to delay getting pregnant after more than 40 expectant mothers died of COVID-19 in four months, the Health Ministry said on Thursday.

The island nation, which recorded its first maternal coronavirus death in May, is battling a spike in Delta variant infections after travel restrictions were eased for local new year celebrations in mid-April.

“Usually, we have 90 to 100 maternal deaths a year, but since the start of the third wave we have recorded 41 deaths of pregnant women from COVID alone,” said Chitramali de Silva, a director of the government’s Health Promotion Bureau.

Government obstetrician and gynaecologist Harsha Atapattu said he was urging “newlyweds, as well as those who are trying to have a baby, to delay it by at least a year because of the risks of COVID-19”.

Mr. De Silva said about 5,500 expectant mothers had been infected. About 70% were fully vaccinated, he added.

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