'Not invincible': WHO warns more young people are dying from coronavirus

The World Health Organisation has confirmed more young people are dying of COVID-19, countering the perception only the elderly and those with underlying health conditions die.

It has been widely acknowledged by health authorities around the world older people are more at risk of suffering from more severe symptoms of the disease and the mortality rate for the elderly is significantly higher.

However, this does not mean young people should become complacent, WHO Europe regional director Dr Hans Kluge warned.

A young woman seen the day after a home isolation order was imposed by the Moscow authorities on citizens of all ages to contain the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus infection. Source: Getty Images

“The very notion that COVID-19 only affects older people is factually wrong,” he said at an online news conference in Copenhagen.

“Young people are not invincible.”

Maria Van Kerkhove, head of WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, said at an online news briefing “more and more” younger people were experiencing severe symptoms of the disease.

“We’ve seen some data from a number of countries across Europe where people of younger age have died," she said.

“Some of those individuals have had underlying conditions, but some have not.”

While 95 per cent of people who have died from coronavirus in Europe are 60 years old or older and more than half of the dead are over 80, WHO warns 10 to 15 per cent of people under the age of 50 with the disease were moderate or severe cases.

“Severe cases of the disease have been seen in people in their teens or 20s, with many requiring intensive care and some unfortunately passing away,” Dr Kluge said.

He also said more than 80 per cent of those who died had at least one other chronic underlying condition like cardiovascular disease, hypertension or diabetes.

However, he did point out there have been people aged over 100 who have beaten coronavirus and made a full recovery.

A 104-year-old man in Oregon who recovered from coronavirus to celebrate his milestone birthday.

Two Australians aged in their 60s have died from COVID-19, the other 28 deaths were people aged in their 70s or older.

NSW Health Minister’s warning to young people

During a press conference on Saturday, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard echoed concerns for young people’s complacency regarding the coronavirus.

“Some young people think it won't affect them, my message as health minister to you is be very aware this can have extremely deleterious health effects, you could possibly die from this,” he said.

A young woman wears a protective face mask walks in Leicester Square in central London as the pandemic continues to escalate. Source: Getty Images

While he acknowledged people over the age of 50 with pre-exisiting health conditions or people aged over the age of 70 are “in a very dangerous place”, he did have some pointed words for young Aussies.

“You won't be, perhaps, be affected to the extent older people will be, but you could be the unlucky ones who end up in our hospital, in our intensive care units on ventilators and the consequences of that may be very, very poor.”

The coronavirus has killed more than 58,900 people worldwide and infected more than 1 million people.

On Wednesday, data released by the Australian government showed women aged between 20 and 29 were most likely to contract the coronavirus, while men in the same age bracket were the second most likely demographic.

– with Associated Press

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