Biggest Group of COVID-19 Patients in Korea Are Young People

  • By Heo Sang-woo, Kim Chul-joong

    March 23, 2020 12:29

    People in their teens and 20s account for the biggest group of coronavirus infections in Korea with 34 percent, a unique pattern in the world, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday.

    The pattern became apparent not only among confirmed cases in the Shincheonji sect in Daegu, a major hotbed of infections, but in other parts of the country.

    The KCDC analyzed 7,755 confirmed cases and 66 fatalities and published its findings in the Osong Public Health and Research Perspectives journal. The findings are expected to serve as an important source of data for medical experts around the world.

    According to the study, infections were particularly high among people in their 20s not only among Shincheonji followers in Daegu and surrounding North Gyeongsang Province but across the country.

    Kim Woo-joo at Korea University Guro Hospital said, "Young people are less enthusiastic about maintaining social distance and socially more active, and that way they often end up causing secondary infections among parents or grandparents."

    The infection curve shows that infections started among younger Koreans and spread to the elderly after a few days.

    For instance people in their 40s and 50s became infected first, followed by a spike in cases among people in their 70s and 80s a few days later. This suggests that active members of society pass the virus to the elderly at home or in nursing homes, highlighting the need for social distancing and personal hygiene in homes as well as elsewhere.

    Most of the fatalities were hospitalized four to five days after developing symptoms and died around five days later. A closer look at the figures shows hospitalization was delayed due to the time it took to distinguish between mild and severe cases, while patients died after the disease had progressed considerably.

    That shows that swift diagnosis and hospitalization of severe cases can be effective in lowering the fatality rate. Only a few fatalities did not suffer from other illnesses such as hypertension or diabetes, but it still warns against complacency by those who are healthy.

    Overall, more women than men became infected, but fatalities were higher among men. The infection statistics were partly skewed by cases among Shincheonji members, but it could also be due to the fact that more men smoke.

    Lee Wang-jun of Myongji Hospital said, "The total number of infections may appear to be declining as cases dwindle in Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province, but new infections are rising in Seoul and surrounding Gyeonggi Province. We need to remain vigilant and maintain strict monitoring and quarantine measures."

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