Premier Doug Ford made a strong appeal to young Ontarians to follow public health guidelines with respect to the coronavirus. The plea came after reports revealed that there are a rising number of cases among people in their 20s and 30s in Ontario. According to latest data nearly 50% of the infections reported in the province last week were from this age group. Almost double the 28% reported in June.
With most of the province now in stage 3 of the reopening, indoor service in bars and restaurants (though limited) and gatherings of more than 50 people are a particular cause of worry. Young people bored with the lockdown and socializing in large groups in bars and at house parties have prompted these fears.
After seeing what was happening in other jurisdictions, the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) and GTA officials have already expressed their concerns (not specific to any age group) about the resumption of indoor bars as part of Stage 3 of the province’s COVID-19 reopening plan.
Last week at least 30 new COVID-19 cases in Montreal were linked to nine bars in the area. This prompted the government to consider closing bars and nightclubs in the city.
One Toronto nightclub has already had their liquor licence suspended after holding an alleged indoor party.
British Columbia’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry also drew attention to the fact that most new cases over the Canada Day weekend were people in their 20s and 30s. She said that 60 of the 102 virus cases were linked to multiple events, gatherings at bars and private parties held in Kelowna.
In the light of these happenings, Ford called out the ‘couple of per cent’ of young adults and the ‘some bad apples’ who are going ‘hog wild’.
Epidemiologists the world over are concerned about the pushback from millennials. They fear that the lack of adherence to health and safety guidelines could hinder the fight against the pandemic and seriously impact elders.
This callousness is not limited to any particular region or country.
News reports point out that young people in the southern and western states of the US are increasingly getting infected with COVID-19. And transmitting it to others. Officials there feel this is because they are ignoring social distancing measures.
A UK study done by the University College London in May also showed fewer young people were sticking to the guidelines. It found that less than 50% of people under 30 were “completely” complying with lockdown rules.
Young people flocking to bars in Berlin and ‘lockdown’ parties in Belgium and France raised similar concerns.
Young adults are not immune to the coronavirus, the World Health Organization has warned. They may be thinking they are safe because early data from China suggested that it did not affect them at all.
Healthcare practitioners say COVID-19 affects every age group equally. As with other diseases, here too, risk increases with age. People in their 20s and 30s have been found to have better outcomes than those aged 50 and up but this does not mean they cannot get severely ill.
Hospital data from Italy, the US and many other countries now shows that some will be severely affected and may even require intensive care. One US report suggests younger adults accounted for more hospitalizations with COVID-19 than any other group, besides those ages 65 to 74. Health experts warn that this risk is increasing with the rising number of cases and with habits like vaping. Some patients may also see long term effects.
While a majority of young adults maybe asymptomatic or have mild symptoms and better outcomes, the fear is that they will infect their more vulnerable parents, grandparents, and other individuals with underlying health issues.
Young people must mask up and maintain social distancing and follow other health guidelines. The choices they make can mean life or death for a loved one!