The head of the World Health Organization has sent a message to young people about the new coronavirus: “You’re not invincible.”
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says health officials are continuing to learn about the virus that causes COVID-19 disease. He said older people are hardest hit but “younger people are not spared.”
He said data from many countries shows people aged 50 and under make up a “significant proportion” of patients who need hospitalization.
“Today I have a message for young people: You’re not invincible,” Tedros said. “This virus could put you in hospital for weeks or even kill you. Even if you don’t get sick, the choices you make about where you go could be the difference between life and death for someone else.”
The World Health Organization noted the epidemic’s dramatic speed, pointing out that it took more than three months to reach the first 100,000 confirmed cases but only 12 days to reach the next 100,000. As of Friday, Johns Hopkins University counted more than 260,000 infections worldwide.
Across the US, governors and public health officials watched the crisis in Europe with mounting alarm and warned of critical shortages of ventilators, masks and other protective gear at home.
The majority of people with the coronavirus only experience mild symptoms like a fever, dry cough and fatigue, and recover. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.