Increasing numbers of terrified parents have populated the halls of Ukrainian hospitals of late, after an unprecedented rise in cases of severe respiratory distress among young Covid-19 patients. More children are requiring ventilation and showing worrying symptoms.

According to one ICU healthcare official, the average amount of oxygen required for each patient has risen from ten to sixty litres per minute, putting immense strain on hospital resources. As the nation heads from autumn into winter, concerns among healthcare workers are at an all time high. If the current surge of infections doesn’t begin to decline soon, the Ukrainian healthcare system could be put under even more extreme pressure.

Despite its comparatively small population, the Ukraine has reported the third highest death toll from Covid-19 cases in a 24-hour period, exceeded only by Russia and the United States. Treatments for the Delta variant are proving ineffective, which has led to the prolonged hospitalisation of hundreds of children in the region.

The Ukraine is one of the most vaccine-hesitant nations in Europe, as well as one of the poorest. The refusal of much of the population to get vaccinated combined with the under resourced healthcare sector does not paint an optimistic picture for coming months.

The Ukrainian administration has enforced stricter regulations on the unvaccinated in public areas, yet more than two-thirds of the adult population remain unvaccinated. The Ukrainian president has gone as far as to offer a 35-euro incentive to anyone who gets fully vaccinated.

Healthcare officials are pleading with the government and the public alike to get vaccinated. The nation recently opened vaccine eligibility to its 12–17-year-old population with the hope that it will help assuage some of the devastation being caused by the Delta variant among Ukrainian minors.

Vaccine sceptic mothers of children who have been affected by the virus have largely experienced a change of heart, pledging that they will get fully vaccinated as soon as their children recover. Despite this, many parents are still hesitant to vaccinate their children. Even parents who have seen their children hospitalised due to the virus claim that there is not enough evidence to guarantee the safety of vaccines.

Authorities throughout the nation have enforced an early closure of schools, a move that has been criticised by the majority of Ukrainian parents. This decision was made in response to the rapid spread of the Delta variant among the under-18 population. Despite attracting the ire of parents who fear the disruption of education and want to play at, the decision has been applauded by healthcare officials.

However, schools are to reopen within the month of November, prompting ICU workers to offer grim predications for the coming holiday season. Hospitals continue to do their best under the immense pressure, treating the current cases while preparing for the eventuality of another outbreak before the new year.

Surveys suggest that most parents are opposed to the closure of schools and the vaccination of minors, which does not bode well for the Ukraine’s struggling healthcare system.