SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil registered the highest number of deaths and lowest number of births in the first six months of the year since comparable data was first compiled in 2003, the national association of notary offices said on Thursday.
Brazil has the second highest COVID-19 death toll in the world behind the United States, with 323,117 of the 528,540 total number of deaths from the disease being registered in the January-June period this year, according to the Health Ministry.
A survey by the National Association of Registrars (Arpen-Brasil) showed that registry offices in Brazil recorded 956,534 deaths from January to June, 67% above the historical average and 37% up on the first half of last year.
Notary offices also registered 1,325,394 live births in the first six months of the year, the lowest for any January-June period since the data series began in 2003, Arpen-Brasil said.
That was 10% lower than the historical average, only 0.09% down from last year but 8.6% lower than 2019, before the pandemic, it said.
"The difference between births and deaths, which has always averaged 901,594 more births, dropped to just 368,860 in 2021, marking a 59.1% decline from the historical average," Arpen-Brasil said in a statement.
"Compared to 2020, the drop was 41.4%, and compared to 2019 it was 55.2%," it added.
Births could be poised to fall further, at least in the short term, as Brazil asked women in April to delay getting pregnant until the worst of the pandemic passed, warning that a variant first discovered in the city of Manaus was affecting pregnant women more than other groups.
(Reporting by Eduardo Simoes; Writing by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Aurora Ellis)