VIDEO: COVID-19: Young people less vulnerable, but may still infect others

  • 26 March, 2020
  • Shirley Lin
Young people can become silent spreaders of COVID-19

A spate of COVID-19 cases brought in from overseas has quickly driven up the number of active cases in Taiwan over the past few weeks. Most of the new patients are young people returning from study in other parts of the world.

Even if these young people do get sick, their health is generally good, and so is the prognosis. The trouble may be that they unwittingly infect other, more vulnerable people.

At Taiwan’s airports these days, one of the few signs of life are the young Taiwanese students that have been passing through in large numbers. They’re coming home after the COVID-19 pandemic put their study abroad programs on hiatus. And with their full protective gear, they make for quite an eye-catching sight.

They are right to be careful: a large number of the most recent COVID-19 cases in Taiwan are people under 40 who recently returned from abroad.

These young people have less to worry about than most when it comes to COVID-19. They sometimes develop only mild symptoms or show no signs of illness at all. The trouble, experts say, is that they can still contract the disease and pass it on to others- often older people for whom COVID-19 can be a serious matter indeed.

Professor Chou Yiing-jeng周穎政of National Yang-Ming University is one of these experts. Professor Chou says young people’s active social lives mean more potential exposure, and the fact that many of Taiwan’s young people live with parents or older relatives means there are many vulnerable people living alongside them. Experts therefore recommend that young people stay away from gatherings and avoid becoming silent transmitters of a global pandemic. 

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