Ill­ness se­vere in younger peo­ple but not as deadly

Calgary Herald - - FRONT PAGE - JA­SON HER­RING jher­ring@post­media.com Twit­ter.com/ja­sonfher­ring

Even though 90 per cent of Al­ber­tans who have died of COVID-19 are over the age of 70, some young peo­ple in the prov­ince are still re­quir­ing hos­pi­tal visits to treat their ill­ness.

As of Thurs­day, seven Al­ber­tans between the ages of 10 and 19 have needed hos­pi­tal ad­mis­sion for the novel coro­n­avirus, with two of them re­quir­ing ad­mis­sion to in­ten­sive care units. Nine Al­ber­tans between 20 and 29 ended up in hos­pi­tal, with one need­ing hos­pi­tal ad­mis­sion and one be­com­ing one of the 143 Al­ber­tans to die of the res­pi­ra­tory virus to date.

Those sta­tis­tics mean that about one in ev­ery 100 pre­teens, teenagers or young adults in Al­berta who has tested pos­i­tive for COVID-19 has needed hos­pi­tal treat­ment for the virus. And ac­cord­ing to Dr. Jim Kellner, a Univer­sity of Cal­gary pro­fes­sor spe­cial­iz­ing in pe­di­atrics, younger pa­tients who re­cover from the coro­n­avirus may face long-term health chal­lenges.

“What we’ve seen across Canada and in other younger coun­tries is that younger adults may not be so highly likely to die but can get se­vere dis­ease and end up in ICUS,” Kellner said. “They can get se­vere lung dam­age and be left with sig­nif­i­cant prob­lems and we don’t yet know what the im­pli­ca­tions will be of that.”

For young chil­dren, the risk of se­vere out­comes is even rarer. Only two Al­ber­tans un­der the age of 10 have been ad­mit­ted to hos­pi­tal, with nei­ther need­ing ICU treat­ment. How­ever, the discovery of a case of mul­tisys­tem in­flam­ma­tory syn­drome in chil­dren (MIS-C) in Al­berta an­nounced Wed­nes­day thought to be re­lated to a COVID -19 in­fec­tion is rais­ing con­cerns about the po­ten­tial for se­vere out­comes among chil­dren.

While the news might be scary for par­ents, Kellner said the ill­ness is treat­able and usu­ally easy to de­tect.

In a de­bate in the leg­is­la­ture

Wed­nes­day, Premier Ja­son Ken­ney high­lighted the dis­par­ity in out­comes among dif­fer­ent age groups, sug­gest­ing that pop­u­la­tions with higher mor­tal­ity rates need to be pro­tected while other Al­ber­tans re­sume their lives.

“The av­er­age age of death from COVID in Al­berta is 83, and I’ll re­mind the house that the av­er­age life ex­pectancy in the prov­ince is 82,” Ken­ney said.

Cal­gary Mayor Na­heed Nen­shi ac­knowl­edged the gap in mor­tal­ity rates among age groups on Thurs­day but said it’s vi­tal the govern­ment works to pro­tect all Al­ber­tans.

Dar­ren Makowichuk

Eigh­teen Al­ber­tans un­der 30, in­clud­ing just two un­der 10, have re­quired hos­pi­tal­iza­tion for treat­ment of the coro­n­avirus.

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