A man wears a face mask as he walks in New York City on Monday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 18 (UPI) -- The World Health Organization warned Tuesday that young people have become the primary source of coronavirus spread.
Takeshi Kasai, the WHO's Western Pacific regional director, said that people in their 20s, 30s and 40s are "increasingly driving" the spread of COVID-19 as colleges in the United States resume classes.
"Many are unaware they're infected -- with very mild symptoms or none at all. This can result in them unknowingly passing on the virus to others," said Kasai. "This increases the risks of spillovers to the most vulnerable: the elderly, the sick, people in long-term care, people who live in densely populated urban areas and under-served rural areas."
Kasai said the world must "redouble efforts" to stop the virus from moving into such vulnerable communities through rapid virus detection and contact tracing, increasing capacity for health systems and persistent implementation of masks, social distancing and hand hygiene.
"If we make these choices, we can use more moderate control measures -- avoiding blanket, nationwide lockdowns, extreme economic closures and high rates of infection and death -- and find a way to improve both health and the economy together," said Kasai.
As of Tuesday evening, more than 22 million coronavirus cases have been reported worldwide and 778,577 people have died as a result of the virus, according to data collected by John's Hopkins University.
In the United States, which leads the world in cases and deaths, the University of Notre Dame and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill both suspended in-person classes this week after more than 100 students at each school tested positive for COVID-19.