WHO warns of changing pandemic as younger people spread coronavirus


SARS Cov2, the virus that causes COVID-19 is being transmitted by people aged 20 to 40 years old, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Tuesday, urging governments to “redouble efforts” to slow its spread.

Dr.Tamano Matsui, the WHO Western Pacific region’s program manager for health emergency information and risk assessment said that while the elderly are more vulnerable to the severest effects of the disease, experts have recently seen more infections among younger people.

Dr. Tamano cited the case of the Philippines and Australia where more than half of current infections are among those below 40 years old, while the rate of infection among younger people in Japan is higher at 65%.

What concerns WHO, she said, is that infected people under 40 tend to have mild or no symptoms.

“So they can transmit the virus in vulnerable settings without knowing it,” said Dr. Tamano, at an online press briefing.

Data from the Philippine’s Department of Health (DOH) showed that as of Aug. 15, half of the more than 157,000 COVID-19 cases, or 79,222, are among those aged 20 to 39.

The 25-29 age group accounted for the most infections—24,170— followed by the 30-34 age group with 21,555.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire earlier explained that working age groups composed majority of those infected since they are the ones allowed to go out and were more likely to contract the virus and pass it on to their family members.

“The pandemic is changing. People in their 20s, 30s and 40s are increasingly driving its spread,” said Dr. Takeshi Kasai, WHO Western Pacific regional director.

“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 underserved rural areas,” Kasai said.

“We must redouble efforts to stop the virus from moving into vulnerable communities,” he added.

Kasai said in the Asia-Pacific region, “we’ve entered a new phase of the pandemic,” where governments need to deal with multiple increases or surges “in a sustainable way.”

“We have to do earlier, targeted responses so we can avoid, as much as possible, big disruptions to the economy and people’s lives,” Kasai said.

“We repeated this many times but we have to really help people maintain their healthy behaviour, and the business sector finds a way to operate to minimize the risk,” Kasai added.

“The direction the pandemic now takes depends on the actions of governments and people across the region. How we fare is up to each and every one of us,” he said.

“If we make the right choices every day, we will come out of this as safe and as strong as possible,” he added. (Source: INQUIRER.net)