COVID-19 crisis: 37 pregnant women, 36 children hospitalized

Many of the patients are in critical condition

SHAARE ZEDEK hospital team members in the coronavirus ward. (photo credit: NATI SHOHAT/FLASH90)
SHAARE ZEDEK hospital team members in the coronavirus ward.
(photo credit: NATI SHOHAT/FLASH90)
The number of children and pregnant women in the hospital spiked during this third wave of the novel coronavirus, reaching a peak in recent weeks.
On Friday afternoon, the Health Ministry shared data on these patients and their situations.
There are currently 37 pregnant women in the hospital, nine of them in critical condition, six on respirators and three connected to an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine.
An ECMO machine is a heart-lung machine that removes carbon dioxide from a patient’s blood and sends its back oxygen-filled. 
Of the pregnant women, five of them are being treated at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem. 
The rest of the pregnant women are relatively dispersed across the country, with one or two of them each being treated per hospital. Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba has three pregnant women and Galilee Medical Center has three as well. 
Some of the pregnant women were forced to deliver their babies in emergency procedures upon entering the hospital. 
There are 36 children under the age of 18 in the hospital, most of them who had underlying medical conditions before contracting COVID-19. 
Eight of them are newborns. Four children are in serious or critical condition. 
Sheba and Hadassah-University Medical Center are treating the highest numbers of children.
As noted, Israel has seen an increase in younger patients since the start of the most recent wave of the pandemic, largely fueled by the British variant, health experts believe.The variant is highly contagious and potentially more deadly, according to various studies. 
In addition, as older people are getting fully vaccinated, they are not developing severe cases of the virus. Younger people and children are less likely to have received both jabs and are therefore still circulating the disease.
On Friday morning, the Coronavirus Knowledge and Information Center reported a reproduction rate of 0.97, which means that the virus is still rapidly spreading in the community. 
On Thursday, two young men in their 20s died of coronavirus. Earlier in the week, a 32-year-old pregnant woman also died from COVID-19.
In general, there are 40 patients being treated on ECMO devices across Israel. Some 13 of them are under the age of 40 and another 25 of them are between the ages of 40 and 60. Only three are above the age of 60.
The highest number of ECMO patients is at Sheba Medical Center, where there are nine ECMO patients, one of them under the age of 40.
At Soroka, four patients under 40 are being treated on ECMO.
There has been striking growth in the number of people on ECMO machines. On January 1, there were only 12 people being treated with ECMO. 
Israel hit 40 ECMO patients for the first time on February 3, when there were 41 patients. Since then, with the exception of a few days, there have been a minimum of 40 being treated at a given time. The peak was on February 19, when 46 people were reportedly being treated with an ECMO device.