Jamaican women are being encouraged to delay becoming pregnant for the next six to 12 months as the zika virus (ZIKV) comes closer to the island.
The Ministry of Health also says pregnant women should take extra precaution to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes.
ZIKV has been linked to microcephaly.
Microcephaly is an abnormal growth of the brain and stunting of the growth of the head of the foetus arising from infection in the first months of pregnancy.
Babies who develop microcephaly in the womb may not live to full term, may be born prematurely, may be still born or may survive, but with life-long disability.
A number of cases have been reported in Brazil and this has triggered concerns.
Permanent Secretary in the health ministry, Dr Kevin Harvey, says while the evidence of a link between microcephaly and ZIKV are inconclusive at this stage, the local health authorities decided to issue the advisory to Jamaican women as a precautionary measure.
Noting that there is no specific treatment for ZIKV, Dr Harvey says it is critical that pregnant women do everything possible to avoid contracting the virus.
He emphasises that there could be severe outcomes for a pregnant woman who becomes infected with ZIKV
Meanwhile, Health Minister, Horace Dalley, says the country’s health authorities are seeking to prevent any possible adverse outcome to pregnant women in Jamaica.
Dalley is calling for every Jamaican to play their part in taking the necessary steps to rid their communities of mosquito breeding sites and to protect themselves from being bitten by mosquitoes.
Persons can protect themselves from mosquito bites by using insect repellent containing DEET, putting mesh on windows and doors and wearing long sleeved clothing where possible.
The health ministry has heightened its alert and is scaling up its vector control activities.