On January 29, 2020, Bangladeshi students wear masks to prevent coronavirus.
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"Increasing age increases the risk of death," Dr Maria Van Kerkhov, head of the WHO's emerging diseases and zoonoses division, said at a press conference at the agency's Geneva headquarters on Thursday. "It seems that even over 80 is the highest risk factor."
Fortunately, for many worried parents, there have been few confirmed cases of the virus in children so far. Officials warn that the virus is too new and there are still many viruses they don't know about, and one month from now, the data they see today may look different.
According to the latest report from the National Health Commission of China, in China, about 80% of people who die from the virus are over 60 years old, and 75% have had heart disease or diabetes. A kind Small research report released on January 30 In the peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet, the average age of patients with coronavirus is about 55 years. The study was conducted on 99 patients from January 1 to January 20 in China's Jinyintan Hospital.
Last week, Singapore confirmed Six month old baby His parents were also infected, and a Chinese baby was born on February 2. The mother of the baby was also positive. However, according to a study performed February 5 in the peer-reviewed American Medical Association, infections seem to be rare in children.
World health officials say symptoms may include sore throat, runny nose, fever or pneumonia, and in some cases may progress to multiple organ failure or even death.
Some infectious disease experts and scientists say older people may be more susceptible to the virus, Was named COVID-19Because their immune system is weak.
Public health officials say the immune system weakens with age, leaving older people particularly vulnerable to respiratory illnesses and causing serious complications.
Professor Isaac Bogoch, professor of infectious diseases at the University of Toronto, said: "Usually older people, sometimes very young people, and of course people with other diseases, their symptoms are usually More serious. "
Marc Lipsitch, a professor of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, said that children were apparently lacking in confirmed cases of coronavirus, or it might be because they were infected but had milder symptoms and no Report to local authorities. World health officials say they are working to improve surveillance of the disease and hope to report more mild cases. Lipsitch said it may take some time for a clear understanding of the case.
"Data comes in many places in many forms," he said in a recent interview.
Symptoms of different age groups can also be seen in other respiratory diseases. Seasonal influenza infects millions of people in the United States each year, and is usually more severe in adults than in children.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, thousands of children are hospitalized with the flu every year, but deaths are rare. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, however, that 50% to 70% of flu-related hospitalizations in the United States occur in people over the age of 65, and 70% to 85% of deaths occur in the same age group.
A lack of confirmed childhood cases was also found in another coronavirus. According to the World Health Organization, during the SARS outbreak in 2003, the disease affected 8098 people and caused 800 deaths within 9 months, with the vast majority of cases infecting the elderly. According to WHO, the mortality rate for people aged 24 or younger is less than 1%.
Lipschi said that even if children have only mild symptoms, scientists still need to know if they can still infect others with high infection rates. "This is the key uncertainty that needs to be addressed," he said.
When asked if there were mild cases of the virus being transmitted, WHO's Kelko said more research is needed.
"We need to go from mild to severe individuals," Kelko said. "The collection of data from the system and the sampling of mild and severe cases are indeed a real urgent need for us to address this issue."