Hospitals are being asked to prepare for an increase in coronavirus infection among children as Israel exits lockdown and schools reopen. Children under the age of 16 are not being vaccinated at this stage.
On Sunday, the head of the general medicine division at the Health Ministry, Dr. Sigal Liverant Taub, wrote a letter to hospital administrators urging them to adjust their infrastructure to suit children, and to prepare their daily medical teams to treat young people by February 25.
"In the upcoming two months, we expect an upward trend in infection in children of all ages in Israel," Liverant Taub wrote. "Evidence is accumulating for higher infection rates of the British variant, whose prevalence in Israel is about 80 percent, among children."
She added that treating children in the same fashion as adults "is not a solution that we want, and therefore we must prepare infrastructure specifically for children, [staffed] by a team that is skilled in treating children alone."
Also Sunday, five children were hospitalized in Meir Hospital in Kfar Sava for COVID-19 and its complications, one of them in serious condition. Three of the children – a 13-year-old, a 10-year-old and a 1.5-year-old – have active COVID-19 infections.
The two other children are suffering from so-called post-COVID syndrome, or long-term effects caused by coronavirus infection. They tested positive for the virus about a month ago, and are now experiencing a multi-system inflammatory response. One of the children, an 8-year-old boy, is in stable condition. The other boy, aged 14, is in life-threatening condition, and is currently in intensive care.
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Dr. Dganit Adam, the director of Meir Hospital's pediatric intensive care unit, said that "We are witness to the fact that despite everyone being certain that children are not endangered by the coronavirus, there are an increasing number of children being hospitalized for COVID-19 and the complications that follow it."
She added, "Some come to us in a more complicated medical state. It's important to be aware of this and to pay attention to symptoms after coronavirus infection – fever, rashes, redness in the eyes and other symptoms, even a month after falling ill."