Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem opened Israel’s first pediatric intensive care unit for coronavirus patients on Friday following the uptick in pediatric coronavirus cases in recent weeks amid the general surge in infections, Ynet reported.
The eight-bed unit is unfortunately already half occupied, with three critically ill babies, all sedated and ventilated, and one baby in stable condition. The babies range in age from ten days old to two years old. Two of the seriously ill children have pre-existing health conditions, but the other two, including a 9-month-old in critical condition, were perfectly healthy prior to contracting the virus.
“I just now ended a Zoom call with the family of a 6-week-old baby, during which all six of the baby’s siblings looked at him from afar and commented how their little brother is so cute and sweet,” said Sonya Sharabi, the head nurse of the new unit. “It broke my heart.”
“We’ve recently started seeing an increase in the number of children who are seriously ill with the virus,” Dr. Uri Pollak, the director of the pediatric ICU unit at Hadassah, told Ynet. “It’s not yet clear to us whether this is a change in the nature of the virus or a phenomenon arising from the fact that the morbidity is so high in the Jerusalem area.”
The high number of children being diagnosed with the virus in recent weeks is attributed to the British variant, with medical experts saying that children are more vulnerable to contracting and spreading the mutated virus than they were to the original virus.
One in three virus patients diagnosed in recent weeks have been under age 20 and one in eight have been under the age of 10.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)