Even Asymptomatic Children Can Transmit Coronavirus to Others

In a new report, it was shown that children with mild and no symptoms can spread the coronavirus to others. These findings were reported in a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report was based on contact tracing data obtained from three different childcare facilities from Utah. A total of 12 children in these facilities spread the virus to at least 12 other people outside the facilities. The children also included an 8-month-old. This suggests that the children can carry the virus from such settings and into their homes.

Previously, new data from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association has also shown that nearly half a million children in United States have been diagnosed with COVID-19. This represents an increase of 16 percent between the last days of August and early September.

The initial concern was that the children might get affected by the virus severely and might not be able to recover, owing to their less experienced immune systems. But now enough data shows that children are very less likely to suffer from a severe form of the coronavirus disease and often just experience asymptomatic or mild infection.

Now the concern is the safety of those who are around these infected children for long duration, like childcare staff, school teachers, etc. This also affects how schools and these healthcare facilities will begin to reopen. Even if children themselves are not affected severely, they are likely to spread the infection to other adults as shown in this new CDC report. This finding has far reaching implications.

For this conclusion, the researchers contact traced data from 184 people, who had links to these three childcare facilities in Salt Lake County, Utah, from this April to July.

The data showed that that at least two asymptomatic children had infected other people, including a mother who was hospitalized due to coronavirus complications. In a separate case an 8-month-old had infected both parents as well.  The report showed that two of the facility outbreaks began with staff members who had household contacts with the virus.

Of all the 31, children in these three facilities, 13 had COVID-19. All of these 13 children showed just mild or no symptoms. This data clearly suggests that in virus transmission, children play an active role.

Pediatricians and the experts from AAP agree with this conclusion as well. Dr. Sally Goza (President AAP) said previously, “We know that children often show few or no symptoms of COVID-19. We also know they are not immune to this virus, and they can become very sick”.

In the MMWR, the scientists say that the effective way to prevent the spread of the virus, it is important to contact trace and conduct timely coronavirus tests of those in childcare settings. This should be done even if people are asymptomatic.

“Testing exposed individuals who may not yet show symptoms of COVID-19 is crucial to contact tracing, which helps identify and support other people who are at risk of infection,” said Goza.

Study authors also suggest that people should regularly use facemasks, especially staff members working with children below the ages of 2, who are too young to wear masks.

This is not the first time that children have been identified as human vectors for coronavirus transmission. A study found that children younger than 5 have between 10 and 100 times more genetic material from the novel coronavirus in their noses than older children and adults.

In another South Korean study, it was shown that even children with no symptoms of coronavirus infection, can carry coronavirus in their nose and throats for weeks.

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