WHO: Young people driving coronavirus spread in many countries

Top World Health Organization (WHO) officials are warning that the coronavirus outbreak is now spreading fastest among younger people.

At a Wednesday press briefing Takeshi Kasai, the WHO’s regional health director for the Western Pacific region, said the virus is increasingly being transmitted by people as young as 20 and 30 as many countries, including the U.S., have seen restrictions on public life relaxed in recent weeks.

Kasai warns that many of the younger people infected have fewer symptoms or “none at all” and that this poses a danger to the much more vulnerable elderly population.

“[T]he epidemic is changing: people in their 20s, 30s and 40s are increasingly driving its spread,” Kasai said. “Many are unaware they’re infected — with very mild symptoms or none at all. This can result in them unknowingly passing on the virus to others.”

“This increases the risk of spillovers to the most vulnerable: the elderly, the sick, people in long-term care, people who live in densely-populated urban areas and under-served rural areas,” the WHO official continued. “We must redouble efforts to stop the virus from moving into vulnerable communities.”

Kasai’s warning comes as many U.S. schools and universities have returned to in-person learning as the fall semester begins.

Multiple major universities including Notre Dame and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill have already moved to cancel plans for in-person learning after outbreaks among student populations occurred following the return of students to dorms and off-campus housing.

“There are no easy answers as the nation navigates through the pandemic. At this point, we haven’t received any information that would lead to similar modifications at any of our other universities,” UNC-Chapel Hill President Peter Hans said on Monday while announcing new policies for the university following more than 300 students at the college entering quarantine after possible exposure to coronavirus.

“Whether at Chapel Hill or another institution, students must continue to wear facial coverings and maintain social distancing, as their personal responsibility, particularly in off-campus settings, is critical to the success of this semester and to protect public health,” he added. 

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 reopening WHO World Health Organization

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