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What is the risk for children to become infected with COVID-19?
It is still important to limit the spread of COVID-19 as much as possible through contact restrictions, even if the first steps towards easing have already been initiated. The schools will next be gradually opened again, not least because the risk of infection with the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 in children is classified as relatively low. However, a new study shows that the number of children infected with the coronavirus appears to be far higher than previously thought.
The current study by the University of South Florida (USF) found that apparently far more children are infected with SARS-CoV-2 than was previously thought. The results of the study were published in the English-language journal "Journal of Public Health Management and Practice".
Far more children are infected
The researchers estimate that for every child who needs intensive inpatient care because of COVID-19, around 2,381 children are infected with the virus unnoticed. This calculation follows a report by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention about a clinical study in over 2,100 children with COVID-19 in China.
What is the situation in the United States?
According to data from a North American registry, between March 18 and April 6, a total of 74 children in the United States received intensive care for COVID-19. This means that another 176,190 children were probably infected during this period. Children under two years of age accounted for 30 percent of cases of intensive care, 24 percent were between two and eleven years old and 46 percent of the cases were children between twelve and 17 years.
More children will develop COVID-19
If up to 25 percent of the US population were infected with the coronavirus by the end of 2020, around 50,000 sick children would have to be hospitalized, the researchers report. Of these children, 5,400 would be so seriously ill that they would need mechanical ventilation. Clinical reports indicate that the average length of stay in pediatric COVID-19 cases is 14 days, and in the United States, only about 5,100 beds are available for the intensive care needed.
Hospitals should be prepared
"Although the risk of serious illness from COVID-19 is lower in children than in adults, hospitals should be prepared and have the right equipment and staff to deal with the possible influx of younger patients," says study author Professor Jason Salemi from the University of South Florida in a press release.
Probability of capacity problems should be considered
Government officials and policy makers should be aware of the likelihood of capacity problems, which underlines the importance of effective containment strategies, the research team said. In the pediatric field, the consequences of the corona virus are also very complex.
Children do not pay attention to self-isolation
Even after discharge from the hospital, small children may not be able to independently follow the recommendations for home infection control and self-isolation, the researchers warn. This increases the risk of further infections. For example, if children come from low-income families where parents work in jobs where there is no way to work from home, the infection rate increases. This aspect should also be considered. (as)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- COVID-19 Possibly Striking More Children than Expected, University of South Florida (Published April 16, 2020), USF
- Elizabeth Barnett Pathak, Jason L. Salemi, Natasha Sobers, Janelle Menard, Ian Hambleton: COVID-19 in Children in the United States, in Journal of Public Health Management and Practice (Posted Apr 16, 2020), Journal of Public Health Management and Practice