Brazil has called on women to postpone planned pregnancies as the country battles with the second-highest COVID-19 numbers in the world.
“If it is possible, it would be better to postpone pregnancies until a moment when the situation is a little more relaxed,” Raphael Camara Parente, Brazil’s secretary of primary health care, said in a public statement. “We cannot say this to those who are 42, 43 years old, of course, but, for a young woman who can, the best thing is to wait for a little,” he said.
Over the past week, the country has faced a staggering 58,303 daily infections and 2,545 deaths, leading to a reported healthcare system collapse.
The Health Ministry says that they cannot guarantee adequate care for pregnant women under the circumstances. Camara added that the ministry is closely studying the issue of pregnancy and variants of the virus.
“We do not have a national or international study, but the clinical view of experts shows that the new variant has a more aggressive action on pregnant women,” he said. “Before, [severity] was linked to the end of the pregnancy, but now (they) see a more serious evolution in the second trimester and even in the first trimester,” he added.
An average of 22.2 pregnant women died of COVID-19 each week in the first quarter of 2021– double the weekly average of 10.4 for 2020 as a whole.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), maternal mortality is about 60 deaths per 100,000 live births. In Argentina, the figure is 39 and 19 in the US.
For months, President Jair Bolsonaro has openly opposed lockdowns and held large events (or super-spreader events in which he often does not wear a mask. The P1 variant, first discovered in Manaus, has quickly become dominant in Brazil, pushing the country past 350,000 deaths.