The fatality rate of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) increased with age, and Korean patients aged over 50 had six times higher mortality than those aged under 50, a medical journal reported.
The report particularly noted that the proportion of children and adolescents aged under 19 rose to account for 4.8 percent of the local COVID-19 patients.
The report, which analyzed 4,212 COVID-19 patients in Korea, was released on the Journal of Korean Medical Science (JKMS) on Monday by the Korean Society of Infectious Diseases, the Korean Society of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, the Korean Society of Epidemiology, the Korean Society for Antimicrobial Therapy, the Korean Society for Healthcare-associated Infection Control and Prevention, and the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).
The researchers investigated the patients from Jan. 19 to March 2. The largest cluster of the virus spread was the Shincheonji Church of Jesus religious group in Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province. In Daegu, 69.3 percent of the confirmed cases were related to the Shincheonji group. The second-largest cluster was the psychiatric ward of the Daenam Hospital in Cheongdo, North Gyeongsang Province.
By age, patients in their 20s were the largest group taking up 29.3 percent of the total, followed by those in their 50s with 19.8 percent. By sex, females were predominant, accounting for 62.2 percent of the total.
“Predominance by the age group of the 20s and females may have caused by the outbreak related to a religious group in Daegu,” the report said.
On March 2, of 4,212 confirmed cases, 22 patients have died (0.5 percent), and 20 among them were 50 years old or older. The fatality rate among patients 50 years or older was 1.2 percent, six times higher than 0.2 percent among those aged 50 or younger.
Seven (31.8 percent) out of the fatal patients were from the psychiatric ward of the Daenam Hospital in Cheongdo. The youngest, 35-year-old Mongolian, had suffered from chronic hepatic failure with cirrhosis.
The report said people aged 19 or younger, or 18 percent of the total Korean population, should be careful not to contract COVID-19.
As of March 2, there were 201 COVID-19 patients aged 19 or under, 4.8 percent of the total. Among them, 15.9 percent were under nine years old, and 169 children (84.1 percent) were 10 years old or older.
“Most pediatric patients are in mild clinical conditions,” the report said. “Identifying the transmission pattern in young children requires more data.” Researchers need more detailed data on the clinical manifestation of the children and the roles of infected children on the epidemiology of COVID-19 in the community, the report said.
As the number of COVID-19 patients surged in Daegu and neighboring areas, the nation urgently needs treatment strategies for serious or critical patients, the report noted.
“Increasing cases without epidemiologic links in the parts of the nation may herald the risks for additional cluster outbreaks in the coming weeks. The health authorities need to monitor such potential clusters of the outbreak, and urgently work out countermeasures,” it added.
<© Korea Biomedical Review, All rights reserved.>