In this latest coronavirus news, a new study from South Korea shows us how children can be silent carriers of COVID-19. Read on to learn more.
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Coronavirus News: South Korean Study Sheds Light on Silent Carriers
New Study Findings
A newly published study from South Korea sheds some light on how the coronavirus can affect children. A group of researchers from the Republic of Korea ran a case series study with 91 children from 20 hospital and non-hospital isolation facilities.
These children tested positive for COVID-19 and were either symptomatic, presymptomatic, or asymptomatic. The researchers ascertained the following information about these children:
- Description of clinical manifestations during the observation period
- Time of symptom of occurrence
- Duration of symptoms
- Duration of viral detection
Here’s a summary of their main findings:
- 22% of the participants did not exhibit any observable symptoms. They remained asymptomatic throughout the study, which ran from February 18 to March 31, 2020.
- 20% of the participants were initially presymptomatic. They didn’t show any symptoms at first, but they developed symptoms as the study progressed.
- 78% of the participants presented with the usual COVID-19 symptoms.
- There was a wide variety when it came to the duration of symptoms. Symptoms could last for as short as one day and as long as 36 days.
- Upon onset of the symptoms, only 8.5% of symptomatic patients were diagnosed.
- The majority of the participants (66.2%) had symptoms that were not recognized as COVID-19 before they were diagnosed.
- 25.4% of patients only developed symptoms after they were diagnosed.
- Coronavirus genetic material can be detected in participants for an average of 17.6 days. For asymptomatic patients, coronavirus genetic material was detected for an average of 14 days. These averages could be broader because some patients couldn’t identify the initial date of infection.
All of these findings suggest that COVID-19 infections in children are easy to miss, so they go on with their usual day-to-day and increase the risk of spreading the virus. This may contribute to silent community transmissions.
The results of this study show the importance of strategic testing. If testing strategy only involved testing symptomatic patients, 93% of children would not have been diagnosed.
New CDC Testing Guidelines
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently revised its testing guidelines. In their updated guide, the CDC states that asymptomatic individuals may not need testing even if they’ve been in close contact with a positive case.
While the study from South Korea uses a small sample of children, these results are consistent with adults’ studies. In a study published in the Journal of Microbiology, Immunology, and Infection, researchers estimate that about 40% of adults who get COVID-19 can stay asymptomatic.
Importance of Testing Close Contacts
The American Academy of Pediatrics, in particular, criticized the latest revisions in the CDC testing guidelines. They believe it’s a step backward.
With schools opening across the country, it’s important to remember that children aren’t immune to COVID-19. The new study confirms that many of them can show mild or no symptoms.
If health practitioners follow the CDC guidelines and only test symptomatic children, they may miss out on identifying silent carriers who end up infecting others. This is especially problematic for communities that resist mask-wearing initiatives.
Strategic testing of close contacts can help improve contact tracing and reduce the risk of further transmission. In the long run, transparency of contact tracing data can also help medical professionals understand the rate of viral transmission.
How to Stay Safe
The new study sheds new light on children’s role in transmitting the coronavirus, but other experts say that it isn’t conclusive yet. The presence of coronavirus genetic material doesn’t necessarily mean children are actively spreading the virus.
The genetic material the researchers found could also be nonviable and incapable of causing infections in others. Scientists continue to run more studies to learn more about the virus and how it’s transmitted.
In the meantime, it’s important to keep you and your family safe. Make sure to follow the proper safety protocols to reduce the risk of infection, such as:
- Washing your hands regularly with soap and water.
- Maintaining social distance when you’re around people you don’t live with.
- Using a face mask that covers your mouth and nose when you’re around people you don’t live with. It would be best if you also used a face mask when you’re around sick people at home.
- Following proper sneezing or coughing etiquette. Use your inner elbow when you cough or sneeze instead of your hand. If you use a tissue, dispose of it right away and sanitize your hands.
- Disinfecting high-touch areas regularly.
Apart from these safety tips, it’s also important to monitor your health. If you or anyone from your family begin feeling any of the COVID-19 symptoms, it’s essential to consult a doctor right away.
You can consider using telehealth services like StreamMD to help minimize the risk of transmission. With StreamMD, you can get screened for the coronavirus from the comfort of your own home.
How are you keeping your kids safe during the pandemic? Please share your tips with us in the comments section below.