School reopenings WILL trigger coronavirus outbreaks, study suggests

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School reopenings WILL trigger coronavirus outbreaks, study suggests: Korean CDC finds middle and high school-age children can spread the virus just as easily as adults

  • The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at household and nonhousehold contacts of more than 5,700 coronavirus patients
  • Children under age 10 were about half as likely as adults to transmit COVID-19
  • However, those between ages 10 and 19 had the highest rate of household members who contracted the virus at about 18.9%
  • A debate has been raging in the US about whether or not to reopen schools, with President Donald Trump in full support of starting up again in Fall 2020 

Reopening schools will trigger outbreaks of the novel coronavirus, a new study from South Korea suggests. 

Researchers from the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) found that children between ages 10 and 19 can spread COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, as easily as adults.

What’s more, transmission rates among household members were highest for contacts of children and teenagers compared to adults.

The report comes as a debate rages in the US about whether or not schools should reopen and how to strike a balance between alleviating working parents who have to rework their schedules and preventing a potentially deadly spike come autumn. 

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at household and nonhousehold contacts of more than 5,700 coronavirus patients. Pictured: Hand sanitizer offered to students during summer school sessions at Happy Day School in Monterey Park, California, July 9

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at household and nonhousehold contacts of more than 5,700 coronavirus patients. Pictured: Hand sanitizer offered to students during summer school sessions at Happy Day School in Monterey Park, California, July 9

Children from ages 10 to 19 had the highest rate of household members who contracted the virus at about 18.9%. Pictured: Des Moines Public Schools custodian Cynthia Adams cleans a desk in a classroom at Brubaker Elementary School in Iowa, July 8

Children from ages 10 to 19 had the highest rate of household members who contracted the virus at about 18.9%. Pictured: Des Moines Public Schools custodian Cynthia Adams cleans a desk in a classroom at Brubaker Elementary School in Iowa, July 8

A debate has been raging in the US about whether or not to reopen schools, with President Donald Trump in full support of starting up again in Fall 2020. Pictured: Trump during a roundtable on the Safe Reopening of Americas Schools at the White House, July 7

A debate has been raging in the US about whether or not to reopen schools, with President Donald Trump in full support of starting up again in Fall 2020. Pictured: Trump during a roundtable on the Safe Reopening of Americas Schools at the White House, July 7

For the study, published in Emerging Infectious Diseases, the team looked at more than 59,000 contacts of 5,706 COVID-19 patients in South Korea from January 20 to March 27.

Household contacts were tested for the virus whether or not they exhibited symptoms but non-household contracts were only tested if they showed signs such as coughing or fever. 

Out of nearly 10,600 household contacts, 11.8 percent had COVID-19 as did 1.9 percent of more than 48,000 non-household contacts.

Children under age 10 were about half as likely as adults were to spread the virus to other people.

However, the highest COVID-19 rate among household members was for children between ages 10 and 19 with 18.6 percent testing positive.  

The Korean CDC says middle and high school students often don’t have as good hygiene as adults and are less likely to practice safe social distancing. 

‘I fear that there has been this sense that kids just won’t get infected or don’t get infected in the same way as adults and that, therefore, they’re almost like a bubbled population,’ Dr Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told The New York Times.

‘There will be transmission. What we have to do is accept that now and include that in our plans.’ 

President Donald Trump has been pushing for schools across the country to fully reopen for the fall semester.

He called recommendations about school reopenings made by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ‘very tough and expensive guidelines’ on Twitter earlier this month. 

Trump also threatened to cut funding if learning institutions do not fully reopen. 

However, public health experts have said that schools need to prepare with more than social distancing and masks but also by testing students and staff and, if someone tests positive, determining how long they quarantine for. 

Some countries have been successful such as Norway and Denmark but many, including South Korea, have had to close schools after reopening due to spikes in infections.  

In the US, there are more than 3.7 million confirmed cases of the virus and more than 140,000 deaths. 

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