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‘Silent spreaders’: Almost a third of infected kids under 9 are asymptomatic

In Israel, highest number of cases seen in the 20-29 age group; overwhelming number of seriously ill are over 60

A family wear face masks to protect themselves from the coronavirus, March 18, 2020. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)
A family wear face masks to protect themselves from the coronavirus, March 18, 2020. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

Almost a third of children under the age of nine infected with the coronavirus are asymptomatic carriers of the disease, or so-called “silent spreaders,” according to a breakdown of confirmed coronavirus cases by age, published by the Health Ministry on the eve of Passover.

According to the report in the 0-9 age group, 27% of children infected with the virus show no symptoms whatsoever, raising concern among Health Ministry officials regarding the potential of that age group to spread the disease. The figure compares with 7% asymptomatic in the 20-29 age group; 4% among 50-59 year olds; and 7% in the 70-79 age group.

“The number of confirmed asymptomatic cases among children is significantly higher than among other age groups,” said Prof. Sigal Sadetsky, head of public health services at the Health Ministry. “The data suggests that children have the potential to be spreaders of the diseases without any suspicion that they have even been infected.

The report looked at the breakdown of clinical symptoms in select age groups.

Magen David Adom workers in protective clothing evacuate a suspected coronavirus patient to the COVID-19 unit at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, April 3, 2020. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

In the 0-9 age group, among 276 confirmed cases, 11% had fever without respiratory symptoms; 29% had fever with respiratory symptoms; and 33% had respiratory symptoms without fever.

In the 20-29 age group, among 1,510 confirmed cases, 8% had fever without respiratory symptoms; 42% had fever with respiratory symptoms; and 33% had respiratory symptoms without fever.

In the 50-59 age group, among 939 confirmed cases, 6% had fever without respiratory symptoms; 61% had fever with respiratory symptoms; and 27% had respiratory symptoms without fever.

In the 70-79 age group, among 346 confirmed cases, 13% had fever without respiratory symptoms; 58% had fever with respiratory symptoms; and 27% had respiratory symptoms without fever.

Over half of those that died of COVID-19, as of Passover Eve were in the over 80s age group.

The highest number of cases was in the 20-29 age group, with the proportion of confirmed cases declining with age. By contrast, the proportion of seriously ill patients increased with age, with 74% of those seriously ill above the age of 60.

According to the latest figures published by the Ministry of Health on Friday morning, a total of 10,095 people were confirmed infected with coronavirus, while 93 have died and 164 were in serious condition.

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