The COVID-19 Pandemic Continues—Is The Spread Primarily Amongst Family Members?

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In South Korea, epidemiologists have found through various studies that we are much more likely to contract the coronavirus, COVID-19, from those who live in our own households, than from strangers on the street.

On July 16, a study, published with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), took a hard look at 5,706 "index patients, who had confirmed as having tested positive with the coronavirus and the subsequent 59,000 known individuals with which they had come into contact.

The data in the study showed that out of 100 infected individuals, only two had appeared to have acquired the virus from non-household contacts.  Even more startling was that in the same study, one in ten had shown to have caught the virus from someone within their own families.

The study also offered that when looking at age groups, the contraction rate within a household was much higher than when the first confirmed cases were either teenagers or those adults in their 60s and 70s.  Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) offered: “This is probably because these age groups are more likely to be in close contact with family members as the group is in more need of protection or support.”

In the study, children age nine and under were not chose to be in the index group.  The experts were also quick to note that the size sample of 29 was relatively small compared to those 1,695 studied in the 20 to 29-year-old range.

Adding in the fact that children with COVID-19 were known to be more likely present as asymptomatic than their adult counterparts, making the task of identifying index cases in that age group even more difficult.  College of Medicine assistant professor, Choe Young-june, pointed out: "The difference in the age group is no huge significance when it comes to contracting COVID-19.  Children could be less likely to transmit the virus, but our data is not enough to confirm this hypothesis."

The study was conducted with data collected between the dates of January 20, 2020, and March 27, 2020, when the coronavirus was in the process of growing and spreading exponentially, and the confirmation of daily infected were reaching their peaks in South Korea.

According to the KCDC official counts, the country's total cases set at 13,816 infected, with a total of 296 deaths.

Could the spread be continuing amongst family members and not between strangers?