Children, too, can be infected and die from Covid-19, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.
The body has called on governments and caregivers to be just as keen in assessing cases in this demographic group.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the agency had reviewed and updated an earlier directive regarding the status of infection following reported deaths of children.
Initially, WHO had reported that in China — where the coronavirus emerged — only a few children were infected and had recovered with mild symptoms.
This allayed fears by many parents on how children, who often come into contact with many types of germs, were going to survive the outbreak.
“This is a serious disease. Although the evidence we had earlier suggested that those over 60 are at highest risk, young people including children have died from the disease and WHO has issued new clinical guidance with specific details on how to take care of children, older people and expectant women,” said Dr Ghebreyesus.
Speaking on WHO daily press briefing on coronavirus, broadcast live from Geneva, Dr Ghebreyesus said he was concerned for children as the virus spread further in poorer countries.
“As the virus moves to low income countries, we are deeply concerned about the impact among populations of malnourished children and those with high HIV and Aids prevalence.
That is why we are calling on every country and individual to do everything they can to stop transmission,” he appealed.
An infectious diseases epidemiologist with the WHO, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, added: “What we know from the evidence we have gathered is that children are susceptible to this virus.
They seem to be infected mostly in terms of symptomatic infections. In terms of reporting systems, they are lower than those of adults. This trend is the opposite of what we would see with influenza.