Illness severe in younger people but not as deadly
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.
Eighteen Albertans under 30, including just two under 10, have required hospitalization for treatment of the coronavirus.