Younger people also falling severely ill with Covid-19, WHO warns

The nationwide coronavirus-related death toll is now more than 12,000 yesterday. Picture: ANDREW MIL

The nationwide coronavirus-related death toll is now more than 12,000 yesterday. Picture: ANDREW MILLIGAN/PA WIRE - Credit: PA

More younger people are falling severely ill with coronavirus despite having no underlying health issues, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned.

People in face masks walk through Ipswich town centre Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

People in face masks walk through Ipswich town centre Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

The international health body said individuals in their 30s, 40s and 50s were being admitted to intensive care with the virus and dying, with a WHO doctor admitting there were still many “unknowns” about young Covid-19 deaths.

However, experts said the majority of people who experience severe illness still tend to be older and with other health problems.

Dr Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s emergencies programme, said at a press conference in Geneva today that one in six Covid-19 deaths in Korea had been people under the age of 60.

While over the past six weeks in Italy, “at least” 10% to 15% of people in intensive care units (ICU) with the virus were aged under 50, he said.

Endeavour House, Ipswich Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Endeavour House, Ipswich Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant


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“It’s not that anything has changed,” Dr Ryan said. “It’s that we collectively have been living in a world where we have tried to convince ourselves that this disease is mild and more severe in older people.

“But I think the evidence has been there all along. There is a spectrum of severity.”

MORE: 14 coronavirus-related deaths reported at Ipswich HospitalWHO’s Covid-19 technical lead, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, said: “We are seeing more and more younger individuals who are experiencing severe disease.

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“I should say, overall, most of the people who are experiencing severe disease and ending up in ICU are people of older age, and are people who have underlying conditions.

“But what we are seeing in some countries, individuals who are in their 30s, 40s and 50s who are in ICUs – and have died.”

She added the WHO needs to “better understand” why young people are dying from the infection, adding “there are still many unknowns at this present time”.

MORE: New coronavirus cases confirmed in Suffolk and Essex in past 24 hoursFollowing the release of the latest government statistics, confirmed Covid-19 cases in Suffolk rose from 157 to 161, while Essex jumped from 526 to 547.

Across the east of England, confirmed cases increased from 2,233 to 2,384.

Nationally, more than 650 people have died in the UK from coronavirus in the past 24 hours.

New data released by the Government shows that as of 9am on April 3, a total of 173,784 people have been tested for the virus with 38,168 testing positive, an increase of 4,450.

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