The coronavirus outbreak that originated in Wuhan, China, has killed more than 3,000 people and infected more than 89,000 around the world.
The coronavirus is particularly threatening to older people who are more likely to die from the condition than younger people.
Children 9 and younger represent about 1% of coronavirus cases and no one in that age group has died from the condition, according to a study published on February 17.
It's possible that children haven't been exposed as much to the coronavirus or that something unique to their bodies is protecting them.
The novel coronavirus outbreak has infected more than 89,000 people and killed more than 3,000. But it appears that no one under the age of 10 has died from the virus — a finding that has stumped researchers.
Since late December, when the first cases of the novel coronavirus were detected in Wuhan, China, the virus has spread to at least 55 other countries. But the disease is particularly threatening to older people who are more likely than younger people to contract the virus, develop severe cases and die from the condition, according to a study from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which was published on February 17.
However, researchers aren't entirely sure why children appear to be less susceptible to the novel coronavirus, which can present in a similar way to the flu and causes a disease called COVID-19.
Something unique to children's bodies may protect them from coronavirus
It's possible that children have simply been less exposed to the coronavirus. There also might be "something different" about how children's bodies respond to the coronavirus, the authors of a study published in January in the New England Journal of Medicine suggested.
It's also possible that children are contracting the coronavirus, and contributing to its spread, but because their cases are so mild, they haven't officially been detected.
However, it's inarguable that older people, especially those with other health conditions, are at a higher risk of developing serious cases of the coronavirus.
"Coronaviruses in general have a striking age-related disease [pattern]," Ralph Baric, a coronavirus expert at the University of North Carolina, told STAT. "So the older you are, the more likely you're going to get severe disease."
Elderly people are more likely to develop the coronavirus and die from it
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Patients in their 80s have a 15% chance of dying from the novel coronavirus, the February Chinese CDC study found. Patients in their 50s were about three times more likely to die than those in their 40s.
Children who were 9 and younger represented about 1% of the total cases examined and none of them died from it.
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If children are, in fact, protected against the coronavirus, that's heartening news, considering that kids are less inclined to wash their hands and cover their mouths when they cough — two important measures that help to protect against spreading the condition.
However, educators across the globe aren't taking any chances and are looking into widespread school closings in an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus, a method that some experts say may be futile.
Japan plans to close all of its schools to help prevent the spread of coronavirus
Japan, for example, announced that it will close all of its schools starting Monday, and won't reopen until early April. The decision will impact 12.8 million students, according to the Associated Press. As of last Thursday, Japan had nearly 900 coronavirus cases.
Schools in the US are preparing to take similar measures after health officials announced the spread of the coronavirus to the states is inevitable — and has already started happening.
But some say shuttering schools isn't actually useful since children can't realistically be cooped up at home for months at a time and will inevitably congregate together in other enclosed quarters — at libraries, gyms and malls.
School closures will disproportionately affect low-income families
The strategy also disproportionately impacts low-income families who rely on school for childcare and meals. It's a similar issue that comes up in the summers when school's out and, as a result, millions of children in the US go without lunch.
While parents and educators are understandably worried, infectious disease specialists are still encouraging families to pay closer attention to the flu, which has been particularly hard on children this season. There have been 32 million cases of flu and 125 children have died from it this season, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children spread flu more than the adults do.
"From a risk standpoint," Dr. Vanessa Raabe, assistant professor of pediatric infectious diseases at NYU Langone Health, told Insider, "I would worry more about flu right now."
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