The risk of COVID-19 spread in children is thought to be minimal although a new US study in young people, potentially suggests otherwise.
The authors, from the Georgia Department of Public Health, describe COVID-19 spread in an overnight camp in which there were 597 residents, consisting of both campers, trainees and staff members staying in cabins, which housed between 3 and 26 people. The median age of campers was 12 years, whereas the median age of staff members and trainees was 17 years. One teenage staff member left the camp after developing chills and tested positive for COVID-19. Tests were then performed on all camp members and data were available for 344 (58%) of those in attendance. Among these, 260 (76%) tested positive and the authors calculated an overall attack rate (that is, positive cases/total attendees) of 44%. However, this rate was 51% among those aged 6 – 10 years and 33% among those aged 18 – 21. Among 136 cases where symptom data was recorded, 36 individuals (26%) reported no symptoms.
The authors highlight how quickly infection spread in an overnight setting, despite the use of cloth masks and opening of windows and doors in buildings. They also noted that asymptomatic spreading together with singing, cheering and a large number of individuals sleeping in the same cabin, were likely reasons for the rapid spread of the virus.
Szablewski CM et al. SARS-CoV-2 Transmission and infection among attendees of an overnight camp — Georgia, June 2020. MMWR / August 7, 2020 / Vol. 69 / No. 31