Young people a 'main driver' for second waves of Covid-19 infection in other countries: Ho Ching

She emphasised the importance of maintaining vigilance despite low numbers in Singapore.

Jane Zhang | October 28, 2020, 04:05 PM

Young people are a "main driver" of the second waves of Covid-19 infections in many countries, wrote Temasek CEO Ho Ching on Facebook on Wednesday (Oct. 28).

She warned that young people should not take Covid-19 lightly just because they think the mortality rate is low for them, and encouraged everyone in Singapore to remain vigilant against the virus despite low number of local cases.

One main driver is mobile young people

In her Facebook post on Wednesday, Ho referenced the second waves of infection that have hit places such as the U.S. (which is actually experiencing a third wave), Europe, Japan, and Korea.

Ho stated that it is "increasingly clear" that one "main driver" of the subsequent waves of Covid-19 in many countries is mobile young people.

The Wall Street Journal reported at the beginning of October that young people were driving the surge in Covid-19 cases in Europe, citing statistics by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control which found that 80 per cent of positive Covid-19 cases were people aged 15 to 49.

Ho wrote that most of these young people have mild or no symptoms and are mobile — both physically and socially — before or just after their symptoms start to show, which is also when they are most infectious.

Silent clusters, she wrote, can suddenly form before cases start popping up rapidly across the general population about eight to 12 weeks later, forming the second waves across all age groups in the community, such as in care homes and prisons.

Long-term health implications

She also noted that recovered Covid-19 patients have been found to be impacted by long-term effects of Covid-19, such as damage to the heart, brain, lungs, and other vital organs.

"Hence, our younger folks should think of these [debilitating] post Covid risks, and not just take Covid lightly bcos (sic) they think the Covid mortality rate is low for them," wrote Ho.

Important to maintain vigilance, implement prevention systems ASAP

Instead, she said, people should stay vigilant over the coming six months, as the U.S. enters its winter months and the number of Covid-19 cases could reach even higher peaks.

This can be done by following the safety measures in place, such as wearing masks, working from home when possible, washing hands, and reduced numbers eating together, which will "slow the rate of transmission or reduce the severity of the illness when the invading viral load is smaller", she wrote.

She also highlighted that there are now more affordable and faster tools to detect infections cases, which allow the government to prevent further community spread by screening and segregating patients for care early on.

Ho wrote:

"We should put that in place as fast as we can.  Even a delay in decision to try these new approaches is a decision in itself which can have very drastic and bad consequences later."

She called for community cluster prevention systems to be put in place "as soon as we can", given that community cases are "very low".

Only then, she wrote, can Singapore's economy re-open safely for lives and livelihoods, without setting off a second wave that many other parts of the world are facing.

"Let’s stay prepared, and start preparing now. Let’s not wait till we see numbers rising into triple digits before we act."

She called on Singaporeans to not be complacent just because the numbers in Singapore are low.

You can read her full post here:

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Top photo by Yalonda M. James/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images and AXEL SCHMIDT/AFP via Getty Images.