Pakistan is expected to witness birth of five million babies in the nine months since the Covid-19 was declared a pandemic on March 11, according to a report published by UNICEF on Saturday.
Globally, an estimated 116 million babies will be born under the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic and almost a quarter of them—approximately 29 million—will be born in South Asia, UNICEF said.
According to the agency's estimates, India will take the lead with 20.1 million pregnancies and new births after the eruption of the novel coronavirus outbreak in the country.
Other countries are also expecting high number of births including China at 13.5 million, Nigeria at 6.4 million and Indonesia at 4 million.
India leads with most expected births amid virus lockdown
Warning that pregnant mothers and babies born during the Covid-19 outbreak were threatened by “strained health systems and disruptions in services” across the world, the UN agency said this could put the lives of mothers and their newborns at risk.
The agency also signaled that most countries with high births already had high neonatal mortality rates even before the pandemic and could see these levels increase with the outbreak.
“Expecting mothers are afraid to go to health centers for fear of getting infected or missing out on emergency care due to strained health services and lockdowns,” said Henrietta Fore, the Executive Director of UNICEF.
“It’s hard to imagine how much the coronavirus pandemic has recast motherhood,” she said.
(With input from Anadolu Agency)