Covid-19 could transmit more easily in schools than thought, says US report

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Digital Desk staff

Covid-19 may be more easily transmitted in school and summer camp settings than previously understood, according to a new report from the US.

As the Irish Times reports, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) looked into an outbreak at a summer camp in Georgia which suggests children – even asymptomatic cases – may play an important role in community transmission of Covid-19.

This contradicts a number of earlier studies where the consensus appeared to be that children rarely transmit the virus between themselves or to other people.

This week 260 employees in one of Georgia’s biggest school districts were barred from entering their schools to plan for reopening because they either had the virus or had been in contact with an infected individual.

Although the camp, involving about 600 young people, followed sanitation rules including staff wearing masks, campers were not required to, and local health officials said “relatively large” groups of children aged between six and 19 slept in communal cabins.

June outbreak

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According to a report by Georgia health officials and the CDC, the outbreak occurred in late June and was identified after a teenage staff member developed symptoms. After testing 344 attendees, 260 were found to be positive.

Equally troubling, was the fact that – contrary to earlier theories about the spread of the disease in children – younger children, as well as those who spent longer at the camp, appeared more likely to be infected.

The report from the CDC stated: “The findings demonstrate that Sars-CoV-2 spreads efficiently in a youth-centric overnight setting, resulting in high attack rates among persons in all age groups.

"First, attack rates presented are likely an underestimate because cases might have been missed among persons not tested or whose test results were not reported.

"Second, given the increasing incidence of COVID-19 in Georgia in June and July, some cases might have resulted from transmission occurring before or after camp attendance."

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