COVID infections in young tripled in last 5 months; WHO Analysis

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
  • Follow author on
Representational Image

The World Health Organization (WHO) has remarked that coronavirus cases among young people are on the rise across the world, with a three-fold increase in infections seen among those aged 15 to 24 in the past five months. 

A WHO analysis of 6 million infections between Feb. 24 and July 12 found that the contribution of people aged between 15-24 years grew to 15% from 4.5%.

“Younger people tend to be less vigilant about masking and social distancing,” Neysa Ernst, nurse manager at Johns Hopkins Hospital’s biocontainment unit in Baltimore, Maryland told media in an email.

“Travel increases your chances of getting and spreading COVID-19,” she said, adding young people are more likely to go to work in the community, to a beach or the pub, or to buy groceries.

The surge in new cases, a so-called second wave of infections, has prompted some countries to impose new curbs on travel even as companies race to find a vaccine for the fast-spreading virus that has claimed more than 680,000 lives and upended economies.

WHO observed that infections among those aged 5-14 years has risen considerably to approximately 4.6% from 0.8% between Feb. 24 and July 12,  at a time when testing has risen and public health experts are concerned that reopening of schools may lead to a surge in cases.

Anthony Fauci, the leading U.S. expert on infectious diseases, urged young people last month to continue to socially distance, wear masks and avoid crowds and cautioned that asymptomatic people could spread the virus, too. Health experts in several countries have urged similar measures as they report that infected youth show few symptoms.

“We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again: young people are not invincible,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news briefing in Geneva last week.

“Young people can be infected; young people can die; and young people can transmit the virus to others.”