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reports of young people dying from COVID-19 alarm parents


DOCTORS are urging parents not to be alarmed by overseas reports of children dying of COVID-19, stressing that it remains an absolute rarity – despite at least one Australian baby having to be hospitalised with the virus.

In the past week, an infant aged under 12 months died in the US, as did a 12-year-old girl in Belgium and a reportedly otherwise-healthy 13-year-old boy in the UK.

Since the beginning of the outbreak, reports have stated the virus seems to affect older people the most, and many young people who test positive experience only mild symptoms, or none at all.

As of yesterday, 149 people under the age of 20 had tested positive for coronavirus in Australia – representing about three per cent of the country’s total caseload.

Of those 149 people, 20 were aged between nought and four.

Another 18 were aged between five and nine, while 24 were aged between 10 and 14, and the remaining 87 were aged between 15 and 19.

News Corp understands the number of young people with COVID-19 around the country who have required hospitalisation is very low.

SA Health confirmed one eight-month-old baby who had tested positive had been hospitalised, but they had since been discharged.

Other state health departments were asked if any people with the virus aged under 20 had been admitted to hospital, but they had either not replied or were unable to supply data at the time of going to press.

“The vast majority of young people who have tested positive have no symptoms, or trivial symptoms,” University of Melbourne epidemiologist Professor John Mathews told News Corp.

“Clearly young people have less severe infections and we think – although we can’t prove it at the moment – that they probably transmit less virus to other people.”

Prof Mathews said it was unclear why some children who tested positive for COVID-19 were getting sick, when the majority remained asymptomatic.

“Every biological rule you can think of, there are always exceptions,” he said. “But the reassuring thing for children at the moment is that they’ve very unlikely to get ill, and even if they do get ill, the chances of a severe infection or even death is very low.”

Children tended to have less severe infections than adults because of “innate community”, which diminished as people got older, Prof Mathews said.



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