Back to school is fast approaching, with the reopening of schools remaining a controversial debate in the United States amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
Long-time physician and White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator Dr Deborah Birx on Friday noted the uncertainty surrounding how quickly school-aged children – namely those under 10 years – are spreading the new virus.
“We know that children under 18 are less sick, but some suffer terrible consequences if they have underlying illnesses,” Birx said during a morning appearance on NBC’s TODAY show.
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“What I cannot tell you for sure despite the study from South Korea is whether children under 10 in the United States do not transmit the virus in the same way as children over 10 years, ”she continued.
“I think this is still an open question that needs to be studied in the United States. We certainly know from other studies that children under 10 are infected, we just don’t know how quickly they spread the virus, ”Birx added.
Brix was referring to a recent study from South Korea which found that a higher prevalence of COVID-19 transmission came from children older than school age than those under nine.
The study authors said the large-scale survey was representative of most patients with COVID-19 at the start of the outbreak in South Korea.
“We have shown that home transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is high if the index patient (or the first documented case in a cluster) was 10 to 19 years old,” they wrote.
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The team monitored nearly 65,000 patients for about 10 days after detection of coronavirus infection, finding that a total of 11.8% of household contacts of these ‘index patients’ had COVID-19 infection. . In households with patients aged 10 to 19, almost 19 percent of household contacts had an infection.
“Our large-scale investigation showed that the transmission pattern was similar to that of other respiratory viruses,” the authors wrote. “Although the contact detection rate of preschool children is lower, young children may have higher attack rates at the end of the school closure, which contributes to community transmission. of COVID-19. ”
Birx’s comments came after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday released various virtual tools and guidelines aimed at helping schools and education staff nationwide as in-person classes are expected to resume in the fall.
The suggestions, which are listed on the agency’s website, are also designed to help parents make sure their children are as protected as possible by taking specific precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19.
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“Knowledge is power, and I think it was very important that the president yesterday had the map behind him showing where the most recent cases are,” Birx said on Friday. “These were the cases for the last seven to 14 days to really let the public know there are areas in the United States where cases are rising rapidly and continue to rise.
“And in these cases and with the new guidelines from the CDC, really give parents, school administrators, teachers and county supervisors a real understanding of their situation in the epidemic and the precautions to take,” he said. she adds.
Fox News’ Kayla Rivas and Nick Givas contributed to this report.