World Health Organization officials Wednesday urged young people to fight the urge to go parties and other gatherings to help prevent new outbreaks of COVID-19.
During a virtual question and answer session from WHO headquarters in Geneva, WHO health emergencies chief Mike Ryan and WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove said young people need to play a role in helping to slow or stop the spread of virus.
Countries around the world, even those which had the virus relatively under control, have seen COVID cases surge in night life hotspots, bars, or other areas where young people like to gather.
They said this is especially true in the Northern Hemisphere, where it is summer and young people are tired of lockdowns and eager to enjoy the nice weather.
Ryan said young people need to ask themselves: “Do I really need to go to that party? Do I really need to be there?” He said younger people have a “huge opportunity to drive down transmission with their behavior.”
The virus “transmits in clusters, it likes people that come together,” said Van Kerkhove, explaining that the virus, if present, will transmit from person to person any time communities provide the opportunity.
WHO officials have seen cases surge among college age people not just at bars and parties, but at places where people gather to watch sporting events, said Van Kerkhove, who urged people to continue practicing physical distancing.
What has not been widely discussed, she added, is that not everyone who has the virus spreads it to someone else. Between 10 and 20 of all cases are responsible for about 80% of viral transmissions. Gatherings provide those “spreaders” the best chance to transmit the virus to the most people, she said.