The Health Ministry instructed hospitals on Monday to prepare for an influx of serious COVID-19 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 the State of 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 eighty percent of cases in Israel."
Hospitals were instructed to prepare at least four more cots for children ill with COVID-19 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 COVID-19 spread among children. Some scenarios, which officials attending the meeting described as "extreme", predicted thousands of daily cases among children.
Prof. Amit Assa of Samson Assuta Ashdod University Hospital said that an increase in COVID-19 morbidity among children is inevitable and that hospitals must prepare accordingly.
"With the reopening of educational institutions and the fact that this is a population group that is largely unvaccinated, the reality of an increase in morbidity among this population group is inevitable," he said.
"With that said, there is a reason for optimism, since, so far, the nature of the disease among this group is mild. Assuta Ashdod Public Hospital is prepared for any scenario. As for the entire population that comes into contact with children, especially those employed in the education system, they must reach maximum immunity and as fast as possible."