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Youngsters hitting nightclubs and beaches have sparked an uptick in coronavirus cases around the globe, the World Health Organization said.
The proportion of people between the ages of 15 and 24 infected with COVID-19 has risen three-fold in about five months, according to the United Nations health agency.
“We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again: young people are not invincible,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters last week.
“Young people can be infected; young people can die; and young people can transmit the virus to others.”
An analysis by the WHO of 6 million infections between Feb. 24 and July 12 found that the share of people aged 15-24 years rose from 4.5% to 15%.
Customers are seen dining at the newly reopened Standard Grill’s outdoor seating in Chelsea as the city continues Phase 4 of re-opening following restrictions imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus on August 01, 2020 in New York City. The fourth phase allows outdoor arts and entertainment, sporting events without fans and media production. (Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)
Among those aged 5-14 years, about 4.6% were infected, up from 0.8%, between those dates, the agency said.
European countries including Spain, Germany and France — along with Asian countries such as Japan and Vietnam — have said that many of the newly infected are young people.
That’s also the case for the United States, which leads the global tally with 4.8 million total infections, the organization said.
“Younger people tend to be less vigilant about masking and social distancing,” Neysa Ernst, nurse manager at Johns Hopkins Hospital’s biocontainment unit told Reuters.
“Travel increases your chances of getting and spreading COVID-19,” she said, adding youths are more likely to go to bars or the beach, as well as to work and grocery stores.
Health experts have urged young people to socially distance, wear masks and avoid crowds, noting that those without symptoms can spread the virus, too.