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Screening of children by KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) from three potential SARS-CoV-2 incidents in three educational settings (a secondary school, and two preschools) did not detect evidence of paediatric SARS-CoV-2 transmission. The data suggest that young children may not be primary drivers of SARS-CoV-2 transmission especially in pre-schools.1

 

​Key findings:

  • Screening of children from three potential SARS-CoV-2 seeding events in three educational settings did not detect evidence of paediatric SARS-CoV-2 transmission.
  • A student from a secondary school, and a student from preschool 1 were both found to be SARS-CoV-2 positive following exposures to adult family household members who were part of a community cluster. Their respective student contacts who developed symptoms during the incubation period were screened and found to be negative for SARS-CoV-2.
  • Extensive screening of both symptomatic and asymptomatic young children at preschool 2 were all negative for SARS-CoV-2. In contrast, sixteen adult staff members of the preschool and 11 cases from their households developed symptoms and were subsequently confirmed to have COVID-19.
  • These data suggest that school transmission of SARS-CoV-2 amongst children, especially young children in pre-schools, may be low.

 

In February and March 2020, three potential SARS-CoV-2 incidents were identified in three separate educational settings (a secondary school, preschool 1 and preschool 2).

 

Symptomatic Screening of Secondary School and Preschool 1 Students

A 12-year-old secondary school student and five-year-old preschool student were both found to be SARS-CoV-2 positive following exposures to adult family household members who were part of a community cluster.

In the secondary school setting, a total of eight students from the school developed symptoms and were screened for SARS-CoV-2 during the incubation period. All eight symptomatic student contacts were found to be negative for SARS-CoV-2.

In the preschool setting (preschool 1), 34 preschool student contacts developed symptoms during the incubation period post exposure and were swabbed for SARS-CoV-2. All 34 symptomatic student contacts were found to be negative for SARS-CoV-2.

 

Asymptomatic and Symptomatic Screening of Preschool 2 Students

An adult staff member of a preschool was found to be SARS-CoV-2 positive.

In the preschool setting (preschool 2), 77 students were also evaluated; of these eight were symptomatic and 69 were asymptomatic. All 77 students were found to be negative for SARS-CoV-2.

Relatedly, 16 adult staff members of the preschool and 11 cases from their households developed symptoms and were subsequently confirmed to have COVID-19.

“The clinical manifestation of COVID-19 in children has been reported to range from asymptomatic to moderate rather than severe, but the burden of disease and the paediatric role in community transmission has remained largely unknown,” shares corresponding author, Dr Yung Chee Fu, Senior Consultant, Infectious Disease Service, KKH.

“These findings suggest that the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission among children especially young children in pre-school settings, is likely to be low. More school transmission studies are urgently needed to inform the development of evidence based strategies to control COVID-19 in our educational settings.”

Read the full study here.

 

​Reference:

  1. Yung CF, Kam KQ, Nadua KD, et al. Novel coronavirus 2019 transmission risk in educational settings [published online ahead of print, 2020 Jun 25]. Clin Infect Dis. 2020;ciaa794. doi:10.1093/cid/ciaa794

 

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