WHe has to be very patient when calling a pediatrician’s office these days. You can easily find yourself on hold for half an hour until the receptionist finally picks up. It’s winter, the time of infections. “There is no shortage of streptococci at the moment,” says a pediatrician from Frankfurt.
But it’s not just bacteria that puts a strain on the immune systems of young children, in particular. Other pathogens are even more dominant in the current wave of diseases: “We are facing a whole range of infectious diseases. “This year, coronaviruses and rhinoviruses are predominant,” says Christian Sommerbrodt, president of the Hessian Association of General Practitioners. Rhinoviruses are dominant in patients under 15 years of age, while older patients are more susceptible to corona.
Many businesses are feeling the effects and are currently suffering from particularly high rates of illness. The current development goes well beyond the usual seasonal levels, explains Sommerbrodt. “We have an unusually strong wave of infections in Hesse.” There is currently an “incredible rush” in doctor’s office hours. The fact that the infection situation was so pronounced before Christmas was unusual, but it was the same last year. Sommerbrodt believes we may need to prepare for this to remain the case for years to come. The consequences are already predictable: one wave of infections meets another. “This leads to exhausted staff.”
The flu hasn’t arrived yet
The flu wave is still coming to Germany. “Influenza viruses, the triggers of viral flu, are currently barely circulating in our latitudes – this is expected for January and February,” says infectious disease specialist Susanne Herold in an interview with the FAZ. The RS virus wave is starting now, resulting in increased hospitalizations among young children and infants.
According to the Hessian Ministry of Social Affairs, acute respiratory illnesses that can be treated on an outpatient basis have increased in the past week. However, currently reported flu cases are still significantly lower than last flu season. Last week, 88 cases of flu were reported in Hesse, a week earlier there were 81. A year earlier, more than 2,000 cases per week were reported on that date.
However, the current flu figures are significantly higher than during the pandemic and also exceed the values of the two pre-pandemic years. Ministry experts expect this year’s flu wave to be “pronounced.”
“Difficult staff situation in schools”
Schools and daycares are also affected by the wave of illnesses. Due to staff shortages, many daycares have to limit child care hours. The Hessian Union for Education and Science reports a “difficult staff situation” in schools: “The high level of illness among teachers and students means that normal teaching activities are not possible only to a very limited extent in many places. »
In schools, classes would then typically be merged or one teacher would supervise two or more classes. “It is difficult to achieve anything other than a simple control,” believes the union. Older students are also often sent home with learning plans. In extreme cases, schools would have to temporarily stop teaching altogether. This happened, for example, last week at the Astrid Lindgren school in Dietzenbach. “Schools are not alone in this difficult situation. There are also reports of a sharp increase in cases of illness in daycare centers, leading in many places to limited opening and care hours, or even temporary closures,” the union said.
She also attributes this to “systemic reasons”. On the one hand, many schools and classrooms in the Rhine-Main region are too small for the number of children and young people attending school, leading to an increase in infections. On the other hand, due to the shortage of teachers, it is not possible for schools to compensate for teacher absences.