‘Young people getting seriously ill’


A public health expert has revealed that a "disproportional number of... young people are getting very seriously ill" from the coronavirus, according to disturbing reports coming out of France and Italy.

During Wednesday's briefing at the White House, Deborah Birx said the coronavirus task force was concerned that "some young people are getting seriously ill and very seriously ill in the ICUs" in the regions hardest hit by the pandemic.

More than 200,000 people have been infected by the virus in at least 144 countries.

According to Dr Birx, the reports indicated the patients may have had prolonged exposure to the virus because they weren't initially concerned about being at risk. It was earlier believed that children were resistant to the virus.

"We think part of this may be that people heeded the early data coming out of China and coming out of South Korea of the elderly or those with preexisting medical conditions were a particular risk," Dr Brix said.

"It may have been that the millennial generation … there may be disproportional number of infections among that group and so even if it's a rare occurrence it may be seen more frequently in that group.

"We have not seen any significant mortality in the children but we are concerned about the reports coming out of Italy and France."

Italy has announced the biggest single-day jump in new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, according to the latest figures issued by Italy's Civil Protection Agency.

The number of coronavirus cases increased by 4,207 in 24 hours. The total number of cases stands at 35,713.

The number of coronavirus deaths increased 475 in 24 hours. The total number of cases now stands 2,978.

Dr Brix's comments came after Attilio Fontana of Lombardy, Italy, told citizens: "You must not go out, you have to stay at home".

"Unfortunately the numbers of the contagion are not decreasing, they continue to be high. Soon we will not be able to give an answer to those who get sick," Mr Fontana said..

"We are asking you to make a sacrifice in order to save lives. Every time you leave home it's a risk for you and others."

Mr Fontana said that if people continue not to comply with the restriction he will ask the government to implement "even stricter measures".




Earlier, Mr Trump announced the US will close its northern border with Canada to "non-essential traffic" as part of the administration's response to the pandemic.

In a tweet, the US President assured people that trade won't be affected by the "temporary" move which he said was made by "mutual consent".

It comes after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Monday that the country's borders will be closed to all foreign nationals from March 18 and called on Canadians abroad to "come home now".

"At this point we are closing our borders to all non Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada … that measure does not apply to US citizens," Mr Trudeau said.

More than 100 people have died of the virus in the US, which has nearly 6,500 confirmed cases of the disease, according to a running tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.




Mr Trump said he will announce "very important news" from the Food and Drug Administration related to the coronavirus today or tomorrow.

Mr Trump, who referred to the disease as the "Chinese virus" in one of a series of tweets Wednesday local time, shed no light on the development to be disclosed.

"I will be having a news conference today to discuss very important news from the FDA concerning the Chinese Virus!" he wrote.

The FDA is the US agency that is responsible for ensuring the safety of drugs, vaccines and medical devices as well as US foods.


megan.palin@news.com.au | @Megan_Palin