Just as it led the world during the vaccination process (with only a few suspicious deaths), Israel is on track to lead the US and Europe in reopening schools and its broader society. And its hospitals are already bracing for a surge in deadly infections (worsened by individuals' complications and the "post-COVID" syndrome) as the cases of five desperately ill children captivate the country.
Israel isn't yet vaccinating children under the age of 16 at this stage even as schools are set to reopen, but public health officials are already out telling the press and the public, not to worry, because Israel will have a team of doctors at the ready.
Here's more from Haaretz:
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."
The doctor 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."
These statements are landing as five Israeli children have been hospitalized in Meir Hospital in Kfar Sava for COVID-19 and its complications, one of them in serious condition. Three of them (a 13-year-old, a 10-year-old and a 1.5-year-old) have active COVID-19 infections.
One of the doctors treating the children added that COVID complications can be unpredictable.
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."
In other news, back in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's latest announcement about the positivity rate in the Empire State declining to a new post-November low has got markets people talking about the outlook for the economic reopening in the US.