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Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

Household contacts at greater virus risk

Early-stage evidence from cases in Shenzhen finds at least one in nine household contacts at risk of being infected by first carrier

MUMBAI : The eastern Chinese city of Shenzhen, more than 1,000 km from Wuhan, detected its first possible novel coronavirus infection on 8 January.

Soon after, surveillance systems were put in place for close contacts of suspected and confirmed patients. Data collected at the time now shows that patients passed on the virus to at least one in every nine household contacts and children were as much at risk as adults.

The study published in The Lancet analysed 391 covid-19 patients and 1,286 close contacts, or those who had stayed, travelled, or had a meal with the patients, in Shenzhen between 14 January and 12 February.

Researcher Qifang Bi of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and others also studied the timelines of case confirmation, isolation and recovery.

Among all close contacts, 6.6% got infected, but this worsened to 11.2% for those who shared a room or apartment with the patients, the study finds.

For 48 patient-contact pairs with complete infection data available, the average time taken to pass on the virus was 6.3 days.

The research reveals no significant difference between the infection risk of a close-contact child and an adult, though it was higher for those above 60.

Among close contacts of the patients who did get infected, 80% of them showed covid-19 symptoms. However, the infection turned severe only for 3% of them, the study by Qifang Bi and others finds.

Out of the 391 patients who were studied, 225 had recovered by 22 February and their median time to recovery was 21 days.

However, more severe cases took 41% longer to recover and, in general, this duration was high for older patients, the study shows.

Also read: Epidemiology and transmission of COVID-19 in 391 cases and 1286 of their close contacts in Shenzhen, China: a retrospective cohort study (bit.ly/2XdHtUD)

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