PREGNANT women have been told to carry on attending important antenatal appointments despite being included in those most at risk from the coronavirus.

The Royal College of Midwives said attending antenatal and postnatal classes was essential for ensuring the wellbeing of pregnant women and their babies.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said pregnant women, along with the over 70s and those with underlying health conditions, should avoid social contact for up to three months during a coronavirus briefing on Monday (March 16) evening.

Government advice also tells pregnant women to avoid anybody displaying coronavirus symptoms including a high temperature and new or continuous cough, avoid non-essential transport and work from home where possible, avoid large gathering such as pubs, restaurants and theatres, avoid gatherings with friends and family and use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services.

New guidance issued by the Royal of College on Tuesday (March 17) said despite the warning, pregnant women should still attend antenatal and postnatal appointments.

Gill Walton, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: "We understand this must be an unsettling time for pregnant women, but we would like to emphasise that attending antenatal and postnatal care when you are pregnant and have a new baby is essential to ensure the wellbeing of pregnant women and their babies, and we would urge all pregnant women who are well to attend their care as normal.

“If you are pregnant and have symptoms of possible coronavirus infection, you should call to defer routine visits until after the isolation period is over."

However, whilst announcing the strictest measures yet to tackle the spread of the virus, Prime Minister Johnson said he would not be forcing schools to close.

No evidence has been found to suggest pregnant woman are at a greater risk than others nor could the virus be passed to the baby during pregnancy, according to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

Edward Morris, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said pregnant women who could work from should do so otherwise public exposure should be kept to a minimum.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said it did not want to see the mother and baby separated even if the mother tested positive for coronavirus.

It also advised that it was fine for mothers to continue to breastfeed as any potential risk was outweighed by the benefits.