Apr 6, 2020 - Health

CDC: Asymptomatic children could play important role in coronavirus spread

 A 3-year-old wraps up a bike ride
A 3-year-old wraps up a bike ride during the coronavirus outbreak on Monday, Washington, D.C. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Compared to adults, children with the coronavirus are less likely to be hospitalized or show symptoms like a fever, cough or shortness of breath, new U.S. data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show.

Why it matters: Those with less serious illness or who are asymptomatic likely play a large role in transmitting the disease. Social distancing is thus important for all age groups, the CDC stressed.

By the numbers: Among the 149,082 confirmed U.S. cases of COVID-19 that the CDC tracked as of April 2, 1.7% were patients under the age of 18.

  • 73% of pediatric patients showed symptoms of fever, cough or shortness of breath, compared with 93% of adults aged 18–64.
  • The percentage of children hospitalized was also lower than the percentage of adults aged 18–64.
  • Still, severe outcomes have been reported in children, including three deaths.

The findings are largely consistent with data from China, which had previously suggested that children with COVID-19 experienced less severe and sometimes different symptoms than adults.

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