One of the World Health Organization’s top officials in charge of fighting the coronavirus pandemic has a stark warning for millennials and other young people about the threat of COVID-19 amid reports that some are shrugging off pleas from health officials to stay home. (The age range of the millennial generation varies, with some sources defining it as 1981 to 1996, though the U.S. Census has said it includes those born between 1982 and 2000.) Aylward’s warning comes on the heels of the release of a preliminary analysis on Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that suggests 38% of coronavirus patients in the U.S. who were sick enough to be hospitalized were under the age of 55. The doctor, who lead a joint WHO-China mission into China in February to study the effectiveness of the coronavirus response in the country, says frontline doctors there couldn’t pinpoint what factors were leading the virus to kill some young people. Earlier this week, French health ministry official Jérome Salomon said half of the 300 to 400 coronavirus patients treated in ICUs in Paris were younger than 65. And half of the ICU patients in the Netherlands were younger than 50 , according to a study of hospital admissions presented at a conference of intensive care specialists “There are concerning reports coming out of France and Italy about some young people getting seriously ill, and very seriously ill in the ICUs,” Dr. Deborah Birx, the response coordinator of the U.S. coronavirus task force, warned at a White House news conference on Wednesday. But Alyward cautions that even if the virus causes only mild symptoms in a majority of people who become infected, the long-term health implications may be serious. According to one recent study by the Hong Kong’s Hospital Authority on released patients, some of those who recover from the virus are left with 20 to 30% reduced lung function and suffer from shortness of breath from just walking quickly. He also urges young people to consider the role they play in stopping the virus, which spreads by close contact and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes .
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