Age group actually spreading the virus
While scientists had originally thought children could be responsible for spreading the deadly coronavirus, researchers now believe there's another age group that are proving to be "a problem on multiple fronts".
"About 30 per cent of new cases are in young people and children - particularly the 20-29 group," Dr Norman Swan told the ABC yesterday.
His comments came after calls heighten to close schools around the nation, following the Federal Government's introduction of a number of tough new restrictions at midday yesterday.
While Prime Minister Scott Morrison has remained steadfast in his decision that schools won't be closing despite Australia's increasing coronavirus outbreak, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews made the call to bring forward the Easter holidays - which commenced today.
And in NSW, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said while "no child will be turned away" and schools would remain open until the end of term, the State Government is "encouraging parents to keep their children at home".
But, Dr Swan said, it's "not schools" where the new virus cases in Australia are cropping up, but in those aged over 20 who don't "necessarily recognise" they're infectious.
"You go and you have a party at Bondi Beach and you go home and have a COVID-19 party to spread it around because you feel invincible," Dr Swan explained.
"And so young people are a problem on multiple fronts. But they get mild symptoms and don't know that they're infectious and spread it around."
Dr Swan said the current testing regime - limited to those who have travelled overseas within 14 days of the onset of symptoms, or came in contact with such a person - was not good at "picking up young people".
"And that's why they're not finding it, because they're not going out and looking for it and we don't know how much there is."
Patients in their 40s and 50s are among those seriously ill in Sydney's COVID-19 intensive care units, increasing fears from health professionals that younger Australians are not heeding the health warnings that could protect them and the most vulnerable.
Australia's Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said the "fairly draconian measures" to close down Australia's non-essential services were necessary because too many people had a "cavalier attitude" to containment.
"Those young Australians … just think that your transmission, or your spread of this virus could lead to a serious and even fatal disease in one of your elderly relatives or friends," Professor Murphy said.
People over 80 account for the vast majority of deaths and severe cases of COVID-19, which poses the greatest risk to the elderly and people with immune-compromised systems or chronic conditions such as lung disease, heart disease and diabetes.
But, NSW Health coronavirus statistics released on Monday showed people in their 30s account for more COVID-19 cases than any other age group in NSW (131), followed by people in their 20s and 40s (125 and 116 cases respectively).
Last week, World Health Organisation Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that young people were not immune.
"I have a message for young people: You are not invincible," he said, speaking at an online news conference from WHO headquarters in Geneva.
"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."
Originally published as Age group actually spreading the virus