Coronavirus: WHO warns more younger people falling seriously ill

3 April 2020, 20:54

Individuals in their 30s, 40s and 50s are being admitted to intensive care, the WHO says
Individuals in their 30s, 40s and 50s are being admitted to intensive care, the WHO says. Picture: Getty

By Matt Drake

More younger people are falling seriously ill with coronavirus, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said, as the number of deaths surpasses 50,000 globally.

The international health body said individuals in their 30s, 40s and 50s were being admitted to intensive care with the disease and dying, despite having no underlying health issues.

However, experts said that the majority of people who experience severe illness still tend to be older and with other health problems.

Dr Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO's emergencies programme, said at a press conference in Geneva on Friday that one in six Covid-19 deaths in Korea had been people under the age of 60.

And over the past six weeks in Italy, "at least" 10 per cent to 15 per cent of people in intensive care units (ICU) with the disease were aged under 50, he said.

Dr Ryan added: "It's not that anything has changed. It's that we collectively have been living in a world where we have tried to convince ourselves that this disease is mild and more severe in older people.

"But I think the evidence has been there all along. There is a spectrum of severity."

WHO's Covid-19 technical lead, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, said there were still many "unknowns" about why young people were dying.

She said: "We are seeing more and more younger individuals who are experiencing severe disease.

"I should say, overall, most of the people who are experiencing severe disease and ending up in ICU are people of older age, and are people who have underlying conditions.

"But what we are seeing in some countries, individuals who are in their 30s, 40s and 50s who are in ICUs and have died."

She said the WHO needs to "better understand" why young people are dying from the infection, adding "there are still many unknowns at this present time".

Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) managing director told the press conference that the world's economy had come to a standstill due to the pandemic.

Kristalina Georgieva described the situation as "humanity's darkest hour" and that the world was in a recession more severe than the 2008 financial crisis.

She said: "This is a crisis like no other, never in the history of the IMF have we witnessed the world economy coming to a standstill.

"We are now in recession. It is way worse than the global financial crisis. It is a crisis that requires all of us to come together."

There have now been more than one million confirmed cases of coronavirus across the world, WHO said.

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

(Alamy)

Turkey lifts objections to Sweden and Finland joining Nato

Capitol Riot Investigation

Trump was told protesters had weapons on January 6, former aide says

Dog in Drainage Pipe

New York trooper crawls into drainage pipe to rescue missing dog

Workers at the scene where an Amtrak train was derailed after striking a lorry

Four killed and dozens injured as passenger train is derailed in US state

France New Parliament

French parliament elects Braun-Pivet as new speaker

The clip shows panicked civilians in a nearby park

Harrowing new footage emerges of Putin's terror strike on shopping centre

Migrant Deaths

50 migrants die after lorry trailer abandoned in Texas heat

Migrants in Spain

Spanish PM blames traffickers and migrants for deaths at border in Morocco

John Hinckley Jr

Hinckley says he is sorry for shooting that wounded Reagan

Ukrainian shopping centre

Macron says Russia cannot win in Ukraine after strike on shopping centre

Colombia Prison Fire

Fire kills 49 following riot at prison in Colombia

Former Nazi concentration camp guard covers his face as he arrives at a gym used as a makeshift courtroom

Nazi guard, 101, jailed for five years for serving in concentration camp

Wimbledon 2022 – Day Two – All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club

Adding artificial fibres to grass could see Wimbledon-style courts around world

Destruction in Aleppo

More than 300,000 civilians killed in Syrian conflict – UN

Mary Mara during 2006 Los Angeles Film Festival

ER and Law & Order actress Mary Mara dies aged 61 after drowning in New York river

A man with breathing difficulties

Jordan’s PM promises inquiry into deadly blast at Red Sea port