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Virus alert: Who are at higher risk of COVID-19 infection?

Va Sonyka / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Photo: Freepik

Although Cambodia has only reported over 100 coronavirus patients – a record low compared with other countries – the Health Ministry still urges the public to observe heightened vigilance to prevent a resurgence of the virus.

Concerns are raised with the lack of any vaccine or drug to eradicate COVID-19, which has taken the lives of more than 300,000 people worldwide. While everyone remains at risk of infection, the World Health Organization says some groups are at a more vulnerable position than others. GT2 lists down the four groups of people who are at a higher risk of COVID-19 infection.

People living with HIV: According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), HIV-positive individuals suffer from a weakened immune system, among others. As such, they are warned to strictly adhere to precautionary measures to avoid contracting the novel coronavirus. UNAIDS says since COVID-19 is primarily an acute respiratory disease, HIV-positive people who belong in a higher age demographic and have heart or lung problems may be at a higher risk of becoming infected with the virus and of suffering from more aggressive symptoms.

Older people: The disease has proved to be an undiscriminating reaper, with the coronavirus sweeping through even the elderly population. WHO Regional Director for Europe Dr Hans Henri P Kluge says older adults are more at risk of contracting the disease.

A report from the WHO Europe states of 30 countries in the European Region, the largest percentage of infection are composed of older people. Moreover, WHO Europe reveals 95 percent of COVID-19 deaths occurred in those older than 60 years, with more than 50 percent of them aged 80 years or older.

People with chronic disease: Report from the WHO Europe has shown that eight out of 10 COVID-19 deaths occurred in those already suffering from cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, diabetes and other chronic conditions. People with pre-existing medical conditions appear to face an elevated risk of severe infection from the novel coronavirus.

Smokers: Another incentive for smokers to quit has emerged as the WHO declared smokers are likely to be more vulnerable to COVID-19. The frequent hand-to-mouth contact that comes with smoking, says the WHO, increases risks of virus transmission. Smoking products, such as water pipes, often involve the sharing of mouthpieces and hoses, which could facilitate the transmission of COVID-19 in communal and social settings. Of course, smokers also have a compromised respiratory system, thus increasing risks of catching the disease.

Homeless: Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said homeless people are one of the most vulnerable groups during the coronavirus pandemic, with them being left to their meagre or non-existent devices to protect themselves from the deadly virus.

In the United States, cluster outbreaks of the virus have been reported in shelters for the homeless. With no food to eat nor water and proper shelter to keep themselves healthy, clean and away from other people, people living in the streets now have more to worry about to survive.

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