A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. that was published on Friday, September 11, said that very young children can be infected by the novel Coronavirus and spread the COVID-19 to adults, even if they show no symptoms.
The new findings have implications as daycare centers and schools reopen across the U.S. and a massive number of children are being diagnosed with the COVID-19. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, over half a million children in the country have been diagnosed with the disease and the rate of new cases among kids continues to rise.
The new study details SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks at three daycare centers in Utah between April and July. It says that 12 children became infected from someone at the facility, but most had shown mild or no symptoms. The investigators used detailed contact tracing and determined that those kids later spread the virus to at least one to four people—outside the child care center, including mothers and siblings.
As per the study, in one case, a child aged eight months, who got infected at a daycare center, transmitted the novel Coronavirus to both parents, while in another case, a parent of an infected kid had to be hospitalized.
COVID-19 is less severe in children than it is in adults, but children can still play a role in transmission, said the CDC study, as some kids are young to wear masks. It also says that the infected children exposed at three Utah based daycare facilities had mild to no symptoms and two of three asymptomatic children, who had confirmed COVID-19, likely transmitted SARS-CoV-2 to their parents and possibly to their teachers.
Suggestions by CDC
Before the outbreaks, the facilities had implemented some strategies, such as daily temperature checks and analyzing other symptoms. Some of the staff were also asked to wear masks, but not the children. This research by the CDC indicates that masks even among children may be an important way to help stop outbreaks.
The U.S. agency recommends that children who are over two years old should wear a mask in public places to help reduce the potential spread of the virus. CDC says on its website that while kids may be spending time with other people as they return to child care facilities or school settings, it is necessary to keep in mind that the exposure to additional children and adults outside of daycare or school must be managed to decrease the risk.
The report also says that having Coronavirus testing available, timely results, and testing of contacts of patients in child care facilities regardless of symptoms can "help prevent transmission and provide a better understanding of the role played by children in transmission." The agency said that the daycare facilities may also consider the implementation of policies to have their staff in quarantine and get tested if family members are showing symptoms of COVID-19.
The study authors wrote, "Staff members at two of the facilities had household contact with confirmed or probable COVID-19 and went to work while their household contact was symptomatic." In addition, the CDC study recommends the use of face masks, particularly among staff members, especially when children are too young to wear masks. As per the report, hand hygiene, frequent cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces, and staying home when ill should be followed to reduce the risk of transmission.