- In two studies looking at a combined 16 cases, Chinese researchers say the disease tends to be mild in minors
- But the virus continued to appear in faecal samples long after nose and throat swabs no longer show evidence of an infection, according to one paper
Children infected with the new coronavirus tend to recover from the illness, with most showing at worst mild symptoms, according to two small-scale studies by Chinese researchers.
The studies appear to support earlier research that the coronavirus takes less of a physical toll on children than older people.
But a specialist also cautioned that the studies were small and the mild symptoms might have led to fewer children being tested.
“We still do not understand why there are so few children among the confirmed cases worldwide,” Ben Cowling, a public health professor from the University of Hong Kong, said.
“We don’t yet know how common are infections in children and whether children can spread infection.”
In a paper published in the journal Nature Medicine on Friday, researchers from the Guangzhou Women and Children’s Medical Centre, in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, examined the cases of 10 infected children – six boys and four girls ranging in age from two months to 15 years.
The 10 were among 745 children tested for the virus between January 22 and February 20.
The children had been tested because they either had close contact with diagnosed patients or were part of a family with an outbreak in the previous two weeks.
Five of these children had a cough, four had a sore throat, three had diarrhoea and two had nasal congestion and a runny nose – symptoms similar to that of a cold or a flu.
“Chest X-rays lacked definite signs of pneumonia, a defining feature of the infection in adult cases,” the paper said.
All of the children recovered and none required respiratory support or treatment in an intensive care unit.
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