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Two 6-year-olds die of COVID-19 at Beersheba hospital

Condition of children with complex preexisting conditions worsened after they contracted virus; head of Soroka Medical Center pediatric unit urges all parents to vaccinate children

A medical worker in the coronavirus ward of Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba on September 15, 2020. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)
Illustrative: A medical worker in the coronavirus ward of Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba on September 15, 2020. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

Two children aged 6 have died as a result of the coronavirus, a Beersheba hospital announced on Thursday.

“These are difficult cases of children with complex preexisting diseases who contracted coronavirus and their condition worsened due to the virus,” the Soroka Medical Center said in a statement.

The Kan public broadcaster said the two children suffered from genetic conditions.

The hospital did not specify whether the children were related or whether they had been vaccinated.

The head of the pediatric intensive care unit at the hospital, Dr. Tzachi Lazar, called on parents to vaccinate their children against the coronavirus.

“Due to the accelerated rate of infection, our concern is that we will begin to see children without preexisting illnesses whose condition may become complicated as a result of the virus,” Lazar said, according to the Ynet news site.

Child receives a dose of COVID-19 vaccine in Jerusalem on December 30, 2021 (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Israel began vaccinating children aged 5-11 against the coronavirus in November.

Health Ministry figures on Thursday morning showed that just 20.4 percent of children in that age group had received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

The deaths of the two children came as Israel faces surging infections caused by the highly contagious Omicron variant.

The 16,115 cases diagnosed on Wednesday marked the most new infections reported in a single day since the start of the pandemic. The previous record was set on Tuesday with 12,554, and before that on September 2 with 11,345 new infections logged during the Delta variant’s wave.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned on Sunday that Israel would likely see 20,000 new daily cases by the end of the week, and could hit 50,000 daily cases at the height of the wave.

Omicron, first detected in South Africa, is apparently more contagious but causes fewer cases of severe illness and death than previous variants — especially among vaccinated people.

With Omicron driving the fifth wave of infections, the positive test rate on Wednesday reached 7.89% out of the over 330,000 tests carried out.

A COVID-19 rapid antigen test is performed in Jerusalem, on January 05, 2022 (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The Health Ministry said the virus transmission number, R, indicating how many people each infected person passes the virus on to, had climbed to 1.99. The transmission rate is based on data from 10 days earlier and any value above 1 shows infections are spreading — the higher the number, the faster the rate.

With the number of cases rising, there has also been an increase in the number of those seriously ill. Health Ministry figures showed there are now 134 patients in serious condition as of Thursday morning, up from 133 the day before. There were 51 people defined as critical. The vast majority of those in serious condition are unvaccinated.

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