This Saturday, September 5, 2020, children will play "Pin the Mask on Gov. Gary Herbert" during a "Trash Your Mask Protest" rally hosted by the Utah Business Revival at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City. The event was held to protest Herbert's orders that all K-12 schools in Utah require face covers to stop the spread of the coronavirus. According to a study by health officials in Utah and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published Friday, September 11, 2020, children in the state who contracted coronavirus in day care programs or day camps have it at about 25% of the time Populations transmit people they later encountered, highlighting the role children can play in spreading the virus from childcare to household contacts. (AP Photo / Rick Bowmer)
Children who caught the coronavirus at day care and day camps have passed it on to their relatives. This emerges from a new report which highlights that children can bring the germ home and infect others.
Scientists already know that children can spread the virus. However, previous research from the United States, China, and Europe found that children are less likely than adults to be infected with the virus and less likely to get seriously ill if they do.
There was also data to suggest that young children don't spread the virus very often, although older children are believed to spread it just as easily as adults.
In the new study, researchers from Utah and the CDC focused on three outbreaks in childcare facilities in Salt Lake City between April and July. Two were childcare programs for toddlers and the other was a camp for older children. The mean age of the children in all three programs was approximately 7 years.
In two of the facilities, investigators were able to determine that an infected adult worker had unwittingly introduced the virus.
The study concluded that 12 children caught the coronavirus in the facilities and transmitted it to at least 12 of the 46 parents or siblings they came in contact with at home. Three of the infected children had no symptoms, and one of them spread them to a parent who was later hospitalized for COVID-19, the researchers said.
This rate of spread – around 25% – is consistent with studies of the spread in households that have involved both children and adults. It also shows that children with no or very mild symptoms can spread the infection, just like adults can.
Hanage warned that it was not clear whether the results of the three programs were generally applicable. The study also did not include genetic analysis of individual infections, which could have given a clearer picture of the spread of the disease.
However, many infected children suffer from mild illnesses and children's testing has been very limited. Therefore, more than 25% of external contacts are likely infected, Hanage added.
The epidemic could get worse and more complicated this fall, said Dr. David Kimberlin, Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist at the University of Alabama, Birmingham.
"This should be another wake-up call for all of us that we must be diligent and all do our part," he said.
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Study: Children infected in day care centers spread the coronavirus at home (2020, September 12)
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