ACCORDING to Valencia’s pediatricians, this autumn has seen a large increase in respiratory illnesses among children, so much so that the health system is under huge pressure with some pediatricians reporting daily patient lists of up to 50 children.
The Valencian Society of Pediatricians has said that in the past month the circulation of respiratory viruses among children has multiplied, to the point of saturating both primary care and A&E services at health centres and some hospitals. Anyone with small children will have noticed, if not their own children, that many of their friends are sick and what feels like “half the class” has been off with coughs and colds.
Pediatricians say that these diseases are no different to the normal seasonal illnesses, but this autumn there are two important factors: the spread of the viruses has come early and it is also the first year without health restrictions, like facemasks and social distancing, since 2020. In addition, the circulation of viruses is much greater, because there are three generations of children that have not yet been exposed to any of these diseases.
Speaking on Cadena Ser radio earlier in the week, Eva Suárez, president of the Valencian Society of Pediatricians, said that for the past month they have been receiving more and more children with respiratory viruses. The most common is the syncytial virus, which in the most serious cases, causes bronchiolitis in children, in some cases requiring admission to intensive care. This has meant that, for example, the ICU at the Clínic de València is fully booked, according to the unions.
Aside from the pressure on hospitals, primary care has also been affected, and this has only just begun, according to Suárez.
Many pediatricians have reached the limit
Suárez said: “We have three cohorts of children who have not been infected yet”. She explained that many pediatricians have reached the limit, with lists of up to 50 children a day, between those who are scheduled and those who go as an emergency.
The society also slams the lack of substitute doctors and insists that primary care is on its knees, with the end result that patients cannot be given quality care.
In the case of hospitals, the problem with broncholitis is that there is no treatment for the symptoms, and the only option is to admit children with respiratory difficulties to hospital, to intensive care.
Sanitat denies collapse
According to the Cadena Ser radio report, sources at Sanitat, the Valencian health department, say that what is happening this year is no different from what happened every autumn-winter before the pandemic . They deny the system is saturated, apart from some areas of higher demand, for a few days, in certain health departments.