The Health Ministry instructed hospitals on Monday to prepare for an influx of serious coronavirus cases in children as Israel moves to reopen its education system.
“Over the next two months, we expect to see an upward trend in infections of children of all ages in Israel due to the end of the lockdown, the reopening of the education system and the fact that children constitute a large part of the unvaccinated population,” a statement read.
“In addition, evidence of higher infection rates with the British variant in children is mounting, accounting for 80% of cases in Israel.”
Hospitals were instructed to prepare at least four more cribs for children ill with coronavirus in regular pediatric wards and train staff at children’s hospitals and intensive care units how to treat serious cases of the disease in children.
On Sunday, children’s hospital directors met with Health Ministry representatives to discuss possible scenarios of coronavirus spread among children. Some scenarios, which officials attending the meeting described as “extreme,” predicted thousands of daily cases among children.
Meanwhile, Israel has discovered several more cases of the South African variant of the coronavirus as the Health Ministry is closely tracking the spread of the variants in the country.
The Health Ministry said Sunday that its central laboratory for viruses documented an additional 14 cases of the South African variant.
One of the patients had previously been infected with the coronavirus and was re-infected with the South African variant.
To date, 44 cases of the South African variant have been detected in Israel, and they have made 124 contacts through 36 infection chains.
The ministry stated it will continue to conduct an extensive nationwide survey among verified coronavirus patients to examine the spread of variants in Israel through genetic testing.
The South African variant was discovered in Israel about a month ago. It has a different pattern of mutations that causes physical alterations in the structure of the spike protein, the part of the spike protein most important for attaching to cells.
This could possibly help the virus partly escape the effects of vaccines currently in circulation.
This variant is not more deadly, but experts say it is far more contagious than the variant that has spread across the globe.
The U.K., South African and Los Angeles variants have been discovered in Israel. The U.K. variant has been blamed for an increased infection rate, dangerous infections in some women, and a spike in illness among children.
The U.K. variant has rapidly become the dominant one in Israel.