Older children can spread the novel coronavirus as easily as adults, a new study from South Korea has found.
A new large study from South Korea has found children younger than 10 transmit the coronavirus less often than adults. But those between 10 and 19 years old spread the virus as much as adults do.
Experts told The New York Times the findings mean infection could spread as children of all ages become infected with the virus.
“I fear that there has been this sense that kids just won’t get infected or don’t get infected in the same way as adults and that, therefore, they’re almost like a bubbled population,” Michael Osterholm, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Minnesota, told The New York Times.
He added: “There will be transmission. What we have to do is accept that now and include that in our plans.”
The South Korean researchers found 5,706 people who were the first in their homes to report COVID-19 symptoms between Jan. 20 and March 27. The researchers then did some contact tracing of people who received the coronavirus from outside their households.
Children under 10 were half as likely as adults to spread the virus.
Children in middle and high school were “even more likely to infect others than adults were” to spread the coronavirus. Experts said there are still a lot of questions about the information. Were these older children just less hygienic? Do they spread it because they’re as big as adults?
“We can speculate all day about this, but we just don’t know,” Osterholm said. “The bottom line message is: There’s going to be transmission.”
The study comes as parents across the world prepare for how to handle the return to school. Parents have struggled to work with home since their children are also there during the day.
“At the same time, virus rates have been rising again, even in places that thought they’d extinguished their outbreaks, and many teachers are wary of returning to the classroom,” according to the Japan Times.