Can children get coronavirus? The short answer is yes

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Children wear a face cover outside a convenience store in Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, March 16, 2020. Iraq announced a weeklong curfew to help fight the spread of coronavirus, late Sunday. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause more severe illness. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

DALLAS (NEXSTAR) — While older people appear most at risk of dying from the coronavirus, it may be months before scientists have enough data to say for sure who is particularly vulnerable and why.

One big question that continues to circulate the internet is whether children can get COVID-19. And while cases are rare, the answer is yes.

To this point, children have made up a small fraction of the world’s case counts. But while most appear only mildly ill, researchers traced 2,100 infected children in China and noted one death, a 14-year-old, and that nearly 6% were seriously ill, according to a report by the Associated Press.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, children do not appear to be at higher risk for COVID-19 than adults. While some children and infants have been sick with COVID-19, adults make up most of the known cases to date.

“Young people are not invincible,” WHO’s Maria Van Kerkhove said, saying more information is needed about the disease in all age groups.

The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar in children and adults, according to the CDC. Generally, children with confirmed COVID-19 have generally presented with mild symptoms. Reported symptoms in children include cold-like symptoms, such as fever, runny nose, and cough. Vomiting and diarrhea have also been reported.

Another question is what role kids have in spreading the virus: “There is an urgent need for further investigation of the role children have in the chain of transmission,” researchers at Canada’s Dalhousie University wrote in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

The CDC suggests the following tips for keeping kids healthy during the coronavirus pandemic:

  • Clean hands often using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Avoid people who are sick (coughing and sneezing)
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces daily in household common areas (e.g. tables, hard-backed chairs, doorknobs, light switches, remotes, handles, desks, toilets, sinks)
  • Launder items including washable plush toys as appropriate in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. If possible, launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry items completely. Dirty laundry from an ill person can be washed with other people’s items.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

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