The paediatric ward at Makarios Hospital is 90 per cent full with children suffering with respiratory infections, the department chief Dr Avraam Elias said on Wednesday.

Speaking to the Cyprus News Agency, he said this year’s infections had increased compared to last year, with an average of six to eight admissions per day. Nonetheless, the number of discharges is more or less the same, EIlias clarified.

“Mostly they are children suffering from respiratory infection, that is seven out of 10 children we are currently treating are with respiratory infections with the predominant one being the RSV virus, which causes acute bronchiolitis in infants. That is why most of the children who are being treated, more than half of them are infants, children under 12 months of age.”

The second most common infection, he continued, is lower respiratory tract infections, microbial pneumonias or viral pneumonias. “We also have children with upper respiratory tract infection while mostly infants under 12 months of age are hospitalised with acute bronchiolitis,” he explained.

Elias explained that acute bronchiolitis is the main cause of admission of children to paediatric wards in the winter months as the peak usually occurs in January and February.

“We cannot say now that we are at the peak of this pandemic. There is expected to be a decline during this period due to the closure of schools and with the reopening of schools after a week or two we expect to see an increase in cases. It happens every year, this year there is an increase in cases compared to last year however it is something that is manageable,” he added.

Usually, he explained, children present with fever, cough, respiratory distress and the cough may be persistent. Children may have runny nose, and sometimes gastrointestinal disorders for this reason, he said, and thus need to be hospitalised in the paediatric wards to get the appropriate treatment.

The other development doctors are observing, is an increase in newborns and infants under two months being admitted. This is due to their immune system still being at the early stages.

“We appeal to parents who have children in this age group to be careful and not to come in contact with other people especially older siblings who bring and transmit these pathogens to younger children,” Elias said.

Regarding coronavirus cases, he specified four children are currently hospitalised. “Although we have had sporadic admissions with coronavirus in recent weeks, there has been a slight increase in admissions recently and this reflects the increase in the general population of the disease and it is mostly young children, infants, with symptoms, fever and anorexia,” he added.