Locals in a city on the coast of Colombia have been told to stop having sex to ensure they stay cool during a scorching 40C (104F) heatwave.

Julio Salas – the health secretary of Santa Marta – was met with laughter and disbelief when he issued the novel advice, which he listed alongside other tips like wearing loose clothing and drinking plenty of water.

According to national news website El Heraldo, Mr Salas said he thought avoiding sex was logical – in the same way people would not take part in strenuous exercise in extreme heat.

The American Heart Association considers sex a "moderate physical activity", meaning it puts as much of a strain on the heart as walking up two flights of stairs.

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".

But he added: "If you have a good air conditioning, there is no problem."

Santa Marta is something of a tourist paradise, but its medical facilities have recently been overwhelmed by the number of people complaining of heatstroke symptoms, including nausea and headaches.

Temperatures are expected to hover well above 30C (86F) for the foreseeable future.

(c) Sky News 2018: Colombians told ‘no sex’ is best heatwave relief