Experts have found that people are more likely to contract COVID-19 at home than outside. In a study published by South Korean epidemiologists on July 16, the experts said most COVID-19 patients contracted the disease from members of their own households and not from their contacts outside the home.

The researchers studied 5,706 index COVID-19 patients and looked into the more than 59,000 people who had been in contact with them. The study showed that only two out of every 100 people infected with the coronavirus had caught the virus from their contacts outside the home, while 10 had contracted the disease from their own family members.

The infection rate within the household was also found to be higher when the first confirmed cases were teenagers or those in their 60s and 70s. “This is probably because these age groups are more likely to be in close contact with family members as the group is in more need of protection or support,” said Jeong Eun-Kyeong, director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

Dr. Choe Young-June, assistant professor at Hallym University College of Medicine, also revealed that children aged nine and below were least likely to be the index patient in the household. He noted, however, that the sample size of 29 was insignificant compared to the 1,695 people between 20 and 29 years old who were also studied.

The researchers also noted that since children infected with the coronavirus are more likely to be asymptomatic compared with adults, it is hard to identify index cases within that group. “The difference in age group has no huge significance when it comes to contracting COVID-19,” said Dr. Choe. “Children could be less likely to transmit the virus, but our data is enough to confirm this hypothesis,” he added.

Meanwhile, the authors of the study collected data between Jan. 20 and March 27, when daily COVID-19 infections in Korea were at their peak. It was also around that time that the new coronavirus started to spread across different parts of the globe.

COVID-19 around the world. Photo by Gerd Altmann/Pixabay

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