Coronavirus presents the highest risk for family members of an infected person, according to the CDC

Published on: 4 March 2020, 19:48 pm IST

If you have been panicking because someone in the office has a cold, then please know that according to international agencies it’s the immediate families of coronavirus patients that are most at risk

family time
There's nothing like family time, after all! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

By now we’re sure that you must have read a plethora of stories about coronavirus and watched enough videos to know what this highly-contagious virus is all about. After all, with the number of COVID-19 cases rising in India–28 at the time this story was published–it’s better safe than sorry, right?

But if you are looking at just about everybody at the office with a runny nose with suspicion, here’s a coronavirus update from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that can put your mind at ease.

It seems that the novel coronavirus poses the most risk for the immediate family members of an infected person. On the basis of an analysis of the first few patients of the disease, the CDC states that the infection passes more easily among family members of a patient as compared to other people they might come in contact with while being infected.

Here is what the CDC found
The study analysed 445 family members and close contacts of the first 10 coronavirus patients in America. All the patients had recently returned from Wuhan in China–where the infection originated.

coronavirus update
More than your colleagues, your family members are more likely to give you coronavirus. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Through this data set, the researchers examined 19 immediate family members–five of which were in contact with the patients during their isolation period. The remaining 430 people consisted of medical professionals and community members.

Out of the 445 people, only two were diagnosed with coronavirus–both of whom were close family members. Neither friends nor neighbours–who had spent at least 10 minutes with the patient in a proximity of six feet–tested positive for COVID-19.

The good news is that the World Health Organization also seems to have a similar view on the disease. In a detailed report last week, the global establishment said that the immediate victims of the disease were indeed close family members of patients.

And since the virus travels through droplets that are released upon sneezing and coughing–hence physical contact–these findings make sense.

This early analysis must be taken with a pinch of salt
Since the spread of coronavirus in the United States is fairly limited–about 126 cases in 13 states–the data set for this study is quite small.

“We need to be cautious. We are looking at the information both from US cases and the information that’s coming in from other countries to understand infection dynamics,” Bloomberg quotes Nancy Messonnier, a top CDC official, as saying.

coronavirus update
While this study is offering hope to panicked citizens, its findings mustt also be taken with a pinch of salt given the limited dataset. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Moreover, the CDC only analysed people who showed coronavirus symptoms. So the possibility that more than just the two people could have been infected is real–as symptoms can take upto 27 days to make their presence known in some cases.

Not to mention, the study doesn’t take into account people who show mild symptoms–or no symptoms at all.

In the end it is important to remember that coronavirus has the most impact on the elderly and those compromised immune systems and underlying health diseases. This means that a majority of us will be able to fight this disease and the mild symptoms it might present for us. But panicking–that won’t get us anywhere.

For more coronavirus updates, watch this space.

Meghna Kriplani Meghna Kriplani

Waging a war against diets one cookie at a time, Meghna is a content creator and editor focusing on women's issues, wellness, and lifestyle.

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