Delta variant forcing Japan’s hospitals to isolate babies and children

A photo of a baby who is separated from her mother is also being treated for COVID-19 in the hospital.

Baby Sara pulls herself up the bars of her cot as her caregiver leaves the room.

Sara is just 15 months old, a pseudonym to protect her privacy; she has been tested positive for COVID-19.Sad to know that she will spend the next eight days recovering from Coronavirus in a special isolation ward dedicated to children.

Sara has been separated from her mother as she is also suffering from Coronavirus and is being treated in a different hospital. It’s a difficult situation.Well, this is an absolute heartbreaking new scenario in Japan as the country fights against Coronavirus.

It’s shocking to know that the virus has yet again created havoc with its new variant that is highly transmissible. This new variant of Covid-19 is known as the Delta virus, and it has alarmingly propelled case numbers in Japan. It has reached frightening new heights, and babies and children like Sara are increasingly infected with this new variant.

The nurses at St Marianna Hospital in Kanagawa prefecture are in the practice of having to feed and change the nappies of the babies and children in this isolation ward as quickly as possible to minimize the risk of its spread to them too.The risk of catching the disease is exceptionally high, and because of that, they need to be prompt and alert. At times do things that go against every instinct they have.

A nurse at the Megumi Harada shared that my profession has taught me to care for patients at their bedside as much as possible. Still, in this case of the Delta variant of Coronavirus, we are forced to the opposite that we are doing at times! We have got standing instructions not to touch or get close to the patients to protect ourselves. We feel helpless, and the situation is sad.

Inside the paediatric COVID ward
The paediatric COVID ward is called the red zone. It is ward dedicated for COVID-positive babies and children only.

To make the ward less scary for children, the hospital staff decorate the room with cartoon characters and decorations to create the COVID ward less scary for their children and babies who are the patients in the ward.You will find the door that opens to the red zone decorated with children’s favorite characters called the Anpanman and his foe Baikinman, a demonic germ.Well, it’s a constant visual reminder of the risk that everyone faces while heading through these doors.

These nurses in the children’s isolation world are doing a splendid job by doing their best and helping the babies and toddlers connect with their parents through the use of tablets and video chats, so they don’t feel as isolated and depressed.However, since there are other sick kids in the ward, too, the staff have to keep a tab on the amount of time spent with each child in the ward.

The hospital arranges for video chats between the parent and the child to speak to each other while their children are isolated on the COVID ward as shared  by St Marianna HospitalThe nurse further shared that children feel very sad and stressed. Thus they play with the children. They often put a play mat on the floor and play with the children, even for a short time.

When they come to meet the kids, caregivers are adorned with complete PPE kits, which further confuses the child, and they often try to embrace them or pull their masks down to see their faces. Paediatrician Yukitsugu Nakamura shared that children often give them hugs as they feel lonely. Children also try to pull off their various protective equipment worn as they don’t understand its meaning. It’s really a sad situation.

But the good news is that the implications are not so bad. Children are just suffering from mild symptoms like a cough and runny nose, and all have recovered quickly. The children all have mild or asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 as shared by hospital staff.Children with Covid-19 stay for a period of about eight days in the isolation ward, and then by the end of the eight days, they’re energetic and recovered.Doctors say at times they feel that they are in a childcare center rather than a COVID ward. This is because they’re so full of beans but can’t go home.

Stay up-to-date on the coronavirus outbreak.
It has been observed that in many cases, these children are not able to go home because their parents are also in the hospital recovering from their infection. Also, they may have elderly grandparents back home, and they cannot be there with them due to the risk of getting them infected.

There is a rise in the number of infections among Tokyo’s children
By far, the most significant digits of infections that have been seen in Japan during this latest wave are people among the age group of 20 and 40 years.Doctors are alarmed with these happenings, although the deaths have not yet spiked.Dr. Nakamura made a valid point that the infections among people over 60 years of age have gone down in Japan. This is because this age group is mostly fully vaccinated. However, on the contrary, people in their 30s and 40s who have young children are seen to be getting infected. It looks that the virus is spreading in homes.

To prevent the threat of Covid-19 spread, the nurses have to change the baby and feed her as quickly as possible. Photo shared by Marianna Hospital

Another shocking fact is that in Tokyo, infections among children have gone up at an alarming rate of 524 percent.

Fears for Japan’s medical system displayed as the cases surge!
As per Japanese experts, we are witnessing the fifth wave of Coronavirus that is being pumped in part. There’s no real sense of crisis.

Most children spend about eight days in the COVID isolation ward before they can go home.

On the other hand, thousands of bars and restaurants are not following the Japanese Government’s orders to close and even not serve alcohol. The reason behind this is that if they follow and don’t operate, they are on the verge of bankruptcy.And people are storming to these bars and restaurants. Thus you will see no shortage of people at these bars at any given point in time.However, the situation currently is that babies and children are getting infected with the delta variant of the Covid-19, and they are being admitted to the hospital. The cases mostly are moderate cases of COVID-19 that require oxygen support as they struggle to breathe.

Days since 100th case
Hospital beds are getting full day by day due to an increase in infections.It’s sad to know that more than 13,000 people are waiting for a hospital bed or, in cases with mild symptoms, for a medical hotel where they can be quarantined and monitored.In this scenario, the Government is now asking people to stay home if possible.Doctors are fearing that the collapse of the medical system could be near if cases continue like this. They further stated that they could reach a point where they are so many cases of COVID-19 patients that people with other illnesses will be left untreated.

Dr. Nakamura stated that if the spread is going to increase among adults too, they are afraid that they will have no provision and space left to treat children slowly. Further, there is a concern about when this pandemic will end as it has become a problematic state of affairs.

Japanese experts and medical professionals have expressed their fear that their medical system won’t be able to cope if cases continue to climb.

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