Coronavirus latest: Shock study reveals people more likely to catch virus at home
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Coronavirus has infected 14,906,602 people and killed 615,754 according to Johns Hopkins University. South Korean epidemiologists have conducted a study that showed people are more at risk of infection from COVID-19 from members of their own households than they are from outside contact. The study was published by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention on July 16.
The South Korean researchers looked at 5,706 infected “index patients”, as well as over 59,000 people who had come into contact with them.
They analysed the rate of infection from the “index” group to the contact group, and tracked how the virus spread between them.
The shock findings showed that just two out of 100 people caught COVID-19 from outside contacts.
But a horrifying one in 10 contracted the virus from their own household.
The study also revealed that infection from within the household was higher when the first age group infected were teenagers or people in their 60’s and 70’s
Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of the Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and one of the authors of the study, told a briefing that this could be because those age groups are “more likely to be in close contact” with families.
These groups were also more likely to be reliant on other members of the household and therefore would interact more, according to Mr Eun-kyeong.
Dr Choe Young-june, a Hallym University College of Medicine assistant professor who co-led the work, added that children below the age of nine were the least likely to spread the virus if they were infected.
But the study only used 29 nine-year-olds in their sample size, meaning that the findings may not be accurate.
Other shock findings by the study include COVID-19 positive children being more likely to be asymptomatic than adults.
This means that children are harder to identify as “index” cases, and could still be likely to spread the virus.
Dr Young-june added: “The difference in age group has no huge significance when it comes to contracting COVID-19.
“Children could be less likely to transmit the virus, but our data is not enough to confirm this hypothesis.”
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Previous studies have suggested that coronavirus spreads worse indoors due to concentrated “viral load”.
The British Medical Journal published a study in May that recommended better ventilation and planning to “isolate an infected household member as far as possible” to avoid spreading coronavirus at home.
The study added: “The precautionary principle suggests that people caring for household members who are unwell should be encouraged to take measures to reduce infecting viral load in order to reduce the incidence and severity of infection.”
The South Korean study used data collected from between January 20 and March 27.
COVID-19 peaked in the country at this time, with the highest daily infections for South Korea occuring in this period.
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