New research shows danger posed by coronavirus to people in their 40s and 50s

British study contends that 4% of infected people in their forties require hospitalization, and double that among those in their fifties

Medical team members at the Barzilay hospital, in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, wear protective gear as they handle a coronavirus test sample on March 29, 2020. (Flash90)
Medical team members at the Barzilay hospital, in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, wear protective gear as they handle a coronavirus test sample on March 29, 2020. (Flash90)

Middle-aged people, and not just the elderly, have a dramatically higher risk of dying or developing serious illness from the coronavirus, new research from Britain has found.

The findings came in a comprehensive analysis of virus cases in mainland China.

Researchers from Britain analyzed more than 3,600 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, as well as data from hundreds of passengers repatriated from the outbreak city of Wuhan.

They discovered that age is a key determining factor in serious infections, with nearly one in five over-80s requiring hospitalization, compared to around one percent among people under 30.

People wear face masks as they shop at a market in Beijing, March 14, 2020. (AP/Mark Schiefelbein)

The study, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, found that 4% of infected people in their forties required hospitalization and double that number of people in their fifties.

Taking into account estimates of the number of cases that may not have been clinically confirmed — that is, mild or asymptomatic infections — the data showed that the hospitalization rate of patients in their fifties was 8.2%.

It estimated that the mortality rate from confirmed COVID-19 cases in mainland China was 1.38%. If unconfirmed cases are taken into account, the death rate dropped to 0.66%.

The authors of the research said that while this was significantly lower than previous estimates, COVID-19 is still several times deadlier than previous pandemic viruses, such as H1N1.

“Our estimates can be applied to any country to inform decisions around the best containment policies for COVID-19,” said Azra Ghani, a study co-author from Imperial College London.

On Tuesday, three Israelis died from the virus, one a woman in her 90s and two other women aged 49 and 50. The latter two were the the youngest people in Israel to succumb to the disease. Of the 18 people to die in Israel from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, 13 were over the age of 70.

Tamar Peretz-Levi, 49, of Lod, who died of the coronavirus on March 31, 2020. (courtesy)

On Tuesday morning, the Health Ministry reported 4,831 cases of the novel coronavirus, a rise of 136 since the previous evening and 484 in the 24 hours since Monday morning.

That included 83 people in serious condition, of whom 69 were attached to ventilators, the ministry said. Another 95 people were in moderate condition, 163 patients had recovered, and the rest had mild symptoms.

The number of fresh cases in 24 hours reported on Tuesday morning marked a small increase in the daily tally over Monday, when the number of cases rose by roughly 450, but was a drop from Sunday when the total soared beyond the 4,000 mark, with an increase of 628 cases.

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