Health care workers are raising concern about the growing number of children being hospitalised with moderate to severe symptoms of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Head of Intensive Care at Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital, Dr Rudo Mathivha says the situation is worrying because the hospital isn’t built to admit a high number of sick young children.

She says a 15-year-old died after the child’s condition deteriorated rapidly following a COVID-19 infection, and a 17-year-old is in ICU with coronavirus-related pneumonia.

Mathivha has urged parents to get their children vaccinated.

More children admitted with COVID-19 symptoms to hospitals: Prof Rudo Mathivha

South Africa is currently in the fourth wave of the pandemic, fuelled by the newly discovered Omicron variant of the virus. Mathivha has warned that they may soon not be able to accommodate any more children.

“This is not something that we had observed with the first, second and third wave. In the past, the children used to get COVID-19 infection. It wouldn’t really send them to hospital in big numbers to be admitted. Our hospitals were not built to house a lot of children. We will not be able to accommodate them, and I’m not saying this to make people panic,” says Mathivha.