COVID-19 positive cases in young adults continue to rise

It’s a simple long-weekend message from the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU).

"Stay at home, Please!" says Dr. Alex Summers, associate medical officer of health for the MLHU.

After alarming data released by the health unit, Summers is pleading with young adults to avoid social interactions during the lockdown.

The MLHU did not update their COVID dashboard Sunday but of the 244 positive cases reported on Friday and Saturday, 130 of them were between the age of 18 and 22.

⚠️ URGENT NOTICE FOR YOUNG ADULTS:

In the last 48 hours, #LdnOnt and #Middlesex County have reported 244 cases of COVID-19. 132 are in young adults 18-22. You read that correctly. Over 50% of all new COVID-19 cases in the last two days are young adults. /1 pic.twitter.com/PinwbN5skJ

— MLHealthUnit (@MLHealthUnit) April 3, 2021

"Some of them are absolutely linked to a known social gathering but some of them are not linked to anything in particular," says Summers.

"We know that COVID is circulating throughout our population and it was important to note that over 50% are within that age demographic. That's a small age bracket to carry the majority of cases in our region, and it speaks to the fact that a COVID is out there in circulating, and that social gatherings, particularly in unmonitored environments will lead to transmission".

Over the past year the virus has mutated. With more elderly getting vaccinated, health officials are now advising young adults to avoid gathering with each other, or with other generations.

"Now we have these COVID-19 variants, whether it's the UK variant or South African variant, which is far more transmissible than the previous version of the virus," says Zahid Butt, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Waterloo.

"It's the same virus but now it's more, it has more, I would say capability to infect more people".

As case counts continue to rise among those under 30 years old, doctors across Ontario are pushing for young adults to be pushed up the vaccination priority list.

"The rate at which we are improving with respect to rolling out the vaccines is frankly abysmal compared to how quickly the variants spread," says Dr. Abdu Shakawy, CTV Infectious Disease Specialist.

"What we have done right now we have decided somehow they will be okay, they will fend for themselves and they will come up in the que whenever they can...It is unacceptable".

Butt believes the main ways to stop the spread of the virus is through vaccination, and for people to follow public health guidelines.

"I think if these infections are in essential workers, and if they are in a younger age group from 18 to 29 years, they should be vaccinated," says Butt.

Summers says determining the order of vaccine priority is a challenge, and they plan on leaving that to the provincial government.

"At the end of the day we'll consider your risk of exposure, your risk of dying, and the role that you might play in keeping things for example the health care system up and running," says Summers.

"It is a balance between the risk of exposure and the risk of what happens if you are exposed, so it's not a simple answer".

MLHU calls this 'the homestretch'. However until more vaccines get in arms, officials will stress young people will continue to drive the transmission of the virus if they don't abide by the rules of the provincial shutdown.

"Limit any indoor social interaction to people with whom you live," says Summers.

"Particularly if you're in that age demographic, it's circulating amongst your friends and circulating amongst people you know. Stay at home!"