The groups most affected by COVID-19 are senior citizens and those with underlying conditions, according to the CDC. Even when children and teens do contract coronavirus, they are either asymptomatic or manage to recover with mild flu symptoms, according to a study published by Nature Medicine.
Despite young people being less likely to develop severe symptoms, they can still be responsible for spreading COVID-19. To curtail this chain of transmission, many authorities have placed bans on social gatherings and closed schools.
Heeding expert warnings and staying at home at this time is crucial. The break from physically attending school is strictly to slow the spread of coronavirus, not for teens to hang out at the malls or for children to play on the public playgrounds.
Coronavirus can also spread through fomites, inanimate objects that can transfer disease to a new host when contaminated with infectious agents, according to the CDC.
For example, if a carrier of the virus touches a doorknob or playground equipment, that object can now infect others who come in contact with it then touch their eyes, nose, or mouth.
“The only problem is when [children] get infected, and schools can be a breeding ground for that, they go home and infect grandma and grandpa, or a relative, or someone who might be in a more vulnerable position, so that’s the rationale for shutting schools,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told MSNBC.
Therefore, asymptomatic carriers can also harbor infectious organisms. This means that even if a younger person who feels healthy and does not show any symptoms should still avoid venturing outside their home to prevent spreading coronavirus to others.
Contrary to common belief, not only can asymptomatic people spread coronavirus, but they are also more likely to.
According to CNN, Dr. Sandra Ciesek, director of the Institute of Medical Virology in Frankfurt, Germany, tested 24 passengers who had just flown in from Israel and reported that seven of the 24 passengers tested positive for coronavirus.
Four of the passengers that tested positive had no symptoms.
According to CNN, Ciesek was surprised that the asymptomatic people had a higher viral load — a measure of the virus concentration — than the patients with symptoms.
Not only are asymptomatic people more likely to spread the disease since they are unaware and less cautious, but they also have a higher probability of spreading the infection with the higher viral load as coronavirus is droplet spread.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci said that younger people “are not immune or safe from getting seriously ill,” on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
A simplified computer simulation of social distancing on Washington Post shows that if only one in eight people go out and interact when necessary, the number of those who get sick could be reduced by half. This would significantly flatten the curve as shown in the graph, to avoid overwhelming the existing health care facilities.
Though the probability of infection by the coronavirus is low for those under 20, we should all try our best to follow the guidelines as closely as possible as it was mandated to help “flatten the curve.” During this crisis, it is better to stay in touch with friends over the phone or social media instead of face to face.
However, getting some fresh air by taking a walk or running is acceptable. Spend time with your family, give your grandparents a call, read a good book, and enjoy activities you don’t normally have time for in your busy daily lives. It may take some sacrifice, but if we all do our part to stay indoors and practice good hygiene, we can avoid the spread of coronavirus.