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Living with working age people put elderly at higher risk of covid-19: Lancet

Published on:29 October 2020, 10:28am IST
If you are stepping out for work then it is better to maintain some social distance with elderlies at home as you might put them at risk as well.
Rhythma Kaul
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Elderlies might be safe at home but if you are going out then they are also vulnerable to covid-19. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Close exposure to working-age household members and neighbours is associated with increased Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) mortality among older adults, found a population-based, observational study conducted by Swedish researchers, and published in the medical journal, The Lancet.

The study aimed to investigate how individual-level housing and neighbourhood characteristics are associated with Covid-19 mortality in older adults, as housing characteristics and neighbourhood context are considered risk factors for Covid-19 mortality among older adults.

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The researchers used data from the cause-of-death register held by the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare to identify recorded COVID-19 mortality and mortality from other causes among individuals (aged ≥70 years) in Stockholm , Sweden, between March 12 and May 8, 2020.

“Researchers have underlined the importance of living arrangements and household composition, such as care homes, crowded housing, and mixed-age households, as well as social contacts outside the household for understanding the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2),” the paper says.

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Don’t step out without a mask. Image courtesy: Zamurovic Brothers from Noun Project via Creative Commons

“Living arrangements shape the contact that older adults have with individuals from within or outside the household. In addition, their risk of infection can be shaped by their broader neighbourhood environment.”

The study titled, Residential context and COVID-19 mortality among adults aged 70 years and older in Stockholm: a population-based, observational study using individual-level data, is the first to evaluate such associations using individual-level data based on a full population.

Also, living in a care home was also found to be associated with increased mortality, potentially through exposure to visitors and care workers, but also due to poor underlying health among care-home residents.

“These factors should be considered when developing strategies to protect this group,” said researchers in the paper.

The age-wise infection break-up among Indian patients also suggests that Covid-19 affects the elderly population more severely. Also, this group may not be stepping out themselves, it still runs the risk of exposure.

“Children going to school, or other family members stepping out for work can bring back infection, and risk exposing their grandparents and other older family members who may also be suffering from certain comorbidities There is always a risk exposing them,” said Dr JS Bhasin, head, paediatrics department, BLK Hospital, Delhi.

Rhythma Kaul Rhythma Kaul

Rhythma Kaul works as an assistant editor at Hindustan Times. She covers health and related topics, including ministry of health and family welfare, government of India.