Youth around the world are less likely to be infected with COVID-19 than adults, according to Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
Children under the age of 10 represent less than one per cent (27 cases) of the 2,500-plus total cases of COVID-19 in the province, Henry said.
She said data on the impacts of COVID-19 on children is still being studied, but noted it is clear children around the world are less likely to contract the virus and less likely to require hospitalization when they do.
No one under the age of 19 in B.C. has had to be admitted to an intensive-care unit due to contracting the novel coronavirus and no young people have died from it, Henry said, adding there has been 79 cases of COVID-19 in the province among people under the age of 19.
“That is the good news for us,” she said.
Henry said research from Australia and New Zealand suggests children are more likely to be infected with COVID-19 from an adult than vice versa. She said children have fewer enzyme receptors in their throat, nose and gut than do adults.
“That may have something to do [with] why it seems to be less likely that children will get infected and then have severe illness, because they have fewer of these. That’s still a theory, but that’s one of the things we’re looking at,” Henry said.
Overall, she said, evidence continues to show children are less likely to transmit COVID-19 to each other or to adults, or have severe cases of the illness or contract it at all.
Meanwhile, about a half-dozen cases of possible coronavirus-related Kawasaki-like syndrome in children is being looked into in B.C., but none have yet been confirmed, Henry said.
Henry said the Kawasaki-like syndrome being seen around the world in children is a post-viral condition mostly seen in younger children after viral or bacterial infections. She said it is plausible COVID-19 infection is leading to some cases, of which there are a couple of hundred in Europe, the U.S. and U.K.
Henry said Kawasaki-like syndrome tends to pop up during influenza season and though it is a rare condition, it has led to the deaths of three children in the U.S.
According to HealthLinkBC, Kawasaki disease is a rare childhood illness that affects the blood vessels and harms the coronary arteries, which carry blood to the heart muscle. Most children treated recover without long-term problems and the disease, which is not contagious, is most common in children younger than five.