When it comes to the risks associated with the novel coronavirus, the accepted understanding is that, upon infection, older people ( in their 60s or older) are at greater risk of developing serious complications than younger people. However, Christine Elliott, Ontario's health minister, says that may not always be the case.
In a press conference held at Queen's Park on Wednesday afternoon, Elliott said that some young people who tested positive for the virus are developing severe symptoms, despite the belief that they are often just carriers who remain asymptomatic.
"People in their 30s are now becoming very ill and are having to be placed on ventilators,” she said.
The minister's office later clarified in an email to Global News that Elliott was not referring to any cases in Ontario, but rather to cases seen elsewhere in the world. Still, Elliott stressed that the coronavirus pandemic is a "very serious health situation for all Ontarians" and encouraged the public to continue participating in social distancing.
Perhaps its time to dismiss the notion that being young and healthy means a person can not suffer from the coronavirus to the same extent as higher-risk individuals. In the UK, an NHS anesthetist is warning people that his hospital's intensive care unit is nearly full of patients who are put on breathing machines. He says that patients are not placed onto that kind of life support unless they were fit and healthy before contracting the coronavirus.
"I want you to know that young people can and do become critically unwell and die from COVID-19," the doctor said. "A colleague of mine is currently looking after several patients under the age of 40, all on ventilators."
He believes it is those 30- to 60-year-old patients, who with the right care are capable of surviving, that will ultimately be failed by a healthcare system that can no longer accommodate them.
"We know from other countries that most of these younger patients will survive. But they will take a long time to recover—often in a hospital. The impact of a sudden influx of coronavirus patients affects all parts of the health system."
Photo by GE Healthcare
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