Locals in a Colombian city have been told to stop having sex to ensure they stay cool during a scorching heatwave.

Santa Marta city health secretary Julio Salas sparked a mix of laughter and disbelief this week when he urged residents of the Caribbean tourist mecca to refrain from sex during the day as part of a list of recommendations, such as staying hydrated and wearing loose clothing to prevent overheating.

“Avoid making love or having sex at times when the temperature is high, especially at noon, because this activity places physical demands on you and increases your heart rate,” he said.

Mr Salas said if people find it too much of a struggle to abstain from sex, then they should at least wait until the sun goes down as "it is better to do it at night when the ambient temperature is lower".

As temperatures climbed to 40C over the past week, hospitals throughout the city of Santa Marta were receiving patients, who were complaining of nausea and headaches, both symptoms of heat exhaustion.

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