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Young people not immune to long-term effects of COVID-19, B.C. top doctor warns

Last Updated Aug 14, 2020 at 7:39 am PDT

FILE - This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, blue/pink, cultured in the lab. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, NIAID-RML)
Summary

B.C.'s top doctor is sharing some long-term symptoms young people who have recovered from COVID-19 are reporting

Accounts of young people come as B.C. looks to crackdown on parties and large gatherings

Younger people continue to make up a majority of new COVID-19 cases in British Columbia

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – As the province warns partygoers to expect crackdowns on large gatherings, we’re hearing younger people are reporting more long-term symptoms after catching COVID-19.

B.C.’s premier and health minister have hinted at enforced action for people caught not following guidelines, with Health Minister Adrian Dix warning on Thursday that public health officials and environmental health officers would be out in full force.

This comes as younger people continue to make up a majority of new COVID-19 cases in British Columbia.

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B.C. Public Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said catching the coronavirus isn’t turning out to be as fleeting as some younger people may have thought.

“We do know that for some people, and we don’t always know who, some of it has to do with the way our own immune system reacts and our genetic makeup. Some people have very severe illness and some people have long-lasting impacts, even with a milder form of the illness,” Henry said on Thursday, adding these long-term impacts are also being reported by people who haven’t been hospitalized.

“But the things that we’re hearing from young people is that fatigue, difficulty even sitting up, profound fatigue that lasts for a long period of time,” Henry explained. “For those people who do have pneumonia, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath that can last a long time.”

She noted in some groups, “more likely to be men than women,” increased blood clotting was reported following positive COVID-19 cases.

“And that can lead to clotting of the arteries around the heart and heart attacks, or it can lead to challenges with brain injury or with what we call pulmonary embolisms — big blood clots in the lungs that can actually happen weeks later,” Henry said.

It was unclear why men were disproportionately affected more than women, she added.

Meanwhile, some teens and young adults in parts of the world have experienced a “post-viral syndrome that can cause inflammation of the blood vessels,” Henry said, adding no cases have been diagnosed in B.C.

“We are learning more and we are learning that there can be long-term impacts that can be quite severe, even for young people,” B.C.’s top doctor warned.

The number of COVID-19 infections is currently growing more rapidly for people aged 20 to 40 years old, she said.

-With files from Marcella Bernardo