One country has asked women to hold off getting pregnant amid the coronavirus pandemic, with new variants presenting more challenges for pregnant women.
The recommendation comes as Brazil continues to be one of the global epicentres of the pandemic, with more Brazilians dying of the virus each day than anywhere else in the world.
Hospitals are buckling under the strain and stocks of drugs needed for intubating severely ill patients are running perilously low, with Brazil turning to international partners for help with emergency supplies.
"If it's possible, delay pregnancy a little until a better moment," Health Ministry official Raphael Parente said during a news conference on Friday.
According to CNN, he said the government "cannot" say such a thing to those aged in their 40s, but could to younger women who could afford to wait a little.
Parente said the recommendation was partly due to the stress on the health system but also due to the more easily transmissible Brazilian variant known as P.1.
"The clinical experience of specialists shows that this new variant acts more aggressively in pregnant women," Parente said.
Previously, Covid-19 cases during pregnancy were focused on the final trimester and birth, whereas lately there have been more serious cases in the second and occasionally first trimester, he said.
Parente did not give any more details.
The P.1 variant, first discovered in the Amazon city of Manaus, has quickly become dominant in Brazil.
It is thought to be a major factor behind a massive second wave of infections that has brought the country's death toll to more than 350,000 – the second highest in the world behind the United States.
Brazil to probe president's response to pandemic
Brazil's Senate has launched a probe into President Jair Bolsonaro's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The congressional investigation, known by its Portuguese acronym as a CPI, can result in a number of actions, including the referral of possible wrongdoing to law enforcement.
In practice, the inquiry is a political headache for Bolsonaro, who is already facing record disapproval amid Brazil's worst coronavirus wave.
Bolsonaro has drawn widespread criticism for his approach to the coronavirus, which he has described as a "little flu".
He has repeatedly ignored calls of health experts to wear masks and railed against the use of lockdown measures.
Angered by attempts to have him investigated, Bolsonaro has blasted lawmakers.
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