Expectant mothers in large cities should not cancel plans to give birth there over fears of contracting the coronavirus and rebook at hospitals in their hometowns, two groups of Japanese doctors urged.

Such a move could put them at risk of infection and increase pressure on those local hospitals, the physicians warned on April 7.

The Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology (JSOG) along with a related organization released a statement urging pregnant women not to travel to their parents’ hometown to give birth, unless they have already made an appointment.

The plea was directed at pregnant women nationwide, not just in Tokyo and six prefectures subject to the central government's state of emergency.

JSOG Chairman Tadashi Kimura said local health care institutions have a limited capacity to deliver babies safely.

“If many decide to suddenly return to their parents’ hometown to give birth, it has the potential to cause real chaos,” Kimura said.

Family members and others may not be allowed to be present for childbirth or visit the hospitals, the organizations warned in the statement and asked people to follow each medical facility’s guidelines.

The organizations also tried to comfort pregnant women worrying about the virus pandemic.

So far, there have been no reports that pregnant women are more likely to be infected with the coronavirus and develop severe symptoms of COVID-19, Kimura said.

“Pregnant women need not to worry too much. We just want them to avoid making a nonessential trip and follow general health protocols thoroughly,” he added.

JSOG and the Japan Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and Japan Society for Infectious Diseases in Obstetrics and Gynecology released revised guidelines for medical institutions.

They asked institutions to take steps to avoid a rush of pregnant women returning to their hometowns for giving birth and take thorough measures to prevent in-hospital infections.