Several leading health professionals have warned that young healthy, even “sporty” people are at risk of dying from coronavirus. Dr Ignace Demeyer, an emergency doctor in Belgium described the pandemic as “nothing short of terrifying”, as he spoke of his surprise at the increasing number of young people showing severe symptoms. A second doctor, Dr Bruce Aylward of the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned people as young as 30 were dying from the virus.
Dr Demeyer, who works at a hospital in Aalst, a city 19 miles (31 kilometres) northwest from Brussels, has revealed the shocking lung scans of “sporty, young people”.
The scans indicate the patients were suffering from severe lung damage, with air sacs filled with inflammatory fluid.
Dr Demeyer told Belgian broadcaster VRT the images are “nothing short of terrifying”.
The doctor also revealed coronavirus patients at his hospital are mainly aged between 30-50 and are not in the elderly bracket as you might expect.
He said: “They are people who do not smoke, who have no other conditions such as diabetes or heart failure.”
Dr Demeyer revealed patients coming in appear to have the same symptoms.
He said: “They all have the same complaints. They have been sick for a week, stayed home with the flu.
“The flu attack is over, they think. They feel fine for two days.
“And then they report with complaints of a dry cough and shortness of breath.”
WHO’s Dr Aylwar, who assessed the pandemic in China, said he is also alarmed at the number of young people who have developed complications from the virus.
Speaking at a press conference, he said: “I would emphasise that there were a lot of people in their 30s, 40s, 50s, who were dying as well.
“People who did have co-morbid conditions had a much higher ratio of dying from the disease, but in most people, there were no other predictors, apart from age, that they could die.”
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Chinese health officials have carried out a huge study on the virus, using data from 72,000 cases.
They found 19 percent of the 8,000 patients who died were below the age of 60 years.
The vast majority of deaths occurred in those over 60 however, with 30 percent in both the 60-69 and 70-79 age brackets, and 20 percent in the over 80s.
But Brian Oliver, a respiratory infectious diseases expert at Sydney’s University of Technology, has said the deaths in China do not necessarily correlate to the rest of the globe.
He said: “What happened in China doesn’t seem to be playing out in quite the same way elsewhere.
“In terms of younger people being susceptible, it seemed to be happening a lot more in China but not so much elsewhere and I don’t quite understand that.”
Mr Oliver added the coronavirus is “like a lottery”.
He explained: “Because we haven’t had these infections before, how our body responds to it is completely unknown… There’s always going to be people who have no apparent risk factors and do very badly.”
So far coronavirus is affecting 172 countries around the world, with over 217,000 cases and 8,911 deaths.