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A team of doctor, nuses and paramedics from Aster Clinic in association with Dubai Healthcare city testing residents of Naif area in Deira on Sunday 29 March 2020. Photo: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News Image Credit:

Dubai: Dr Farida Al Hosani, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) announced during Saturday’s press conference that unlike other countries there had been a higher incidence of 20-44-year-old’s testing positive for coronavirus in the UAE.

Al Hosani explained that this was for four reasons, including recklessness and failure to comply with health warnings, and the false confidence that younger people wouldn’t be as affected by the virus. Other reasons were that younger people form the largest segment of society and the largest percentage of the workforce.

Dr Wael Faroug Al Ameen

Dr Wael Faroug Al Ameen, consultant clinical microbiologist and head of infection control at the King’s College Hospital, London, in the UAE agreed, “The incidence is higher because as per UAE demographics, a majority of the population in UAE is made up of expatriates of which a large section falls in the age group of 20-44 years. It is the question of probability.”

According to the infographics on the UAE population provided by the Global Media Insight, the World Health Organisation estimates the population of UAE to be 9.54 million of which nearly 65.5 per cent fall into the 25-54 age group. As per the statistics nearly 72 per cent are males and 28 per cent females and the likelihood of males in the age group of 20-44 contracting COVID-19 looks very possible given the statistics.

Dr Faroug said a lot of expatriates living in confined spaces must have found it challenging to keep up to social distancing and with the infection rate of the virus being higher, positives must have occurred. Dr Hosani had observed in her press conference: “Through our follow up we found that the neglignece in home quarantine was the main factor in increase of infection rate.”

Dr Mohamamd Rafique, Medical Director of Prime Hospitals and head of infection control said that two more reasons contributed to cases of infection in the younger age group. “Most significant reason for the spread in younger generation is the RO (Rate of infection) rate of a disease. RO is a mathematical term that indicates how contagious an infectious disease is.

Rafique

"We know that today about 678,905 people are positive worldwide and there have been 31,771 deaths. Going by statistics COVID-19 has an approximate R0 rate of 2.2. which means one person can infect more than two people and that is why the numbers multiply so fast.”

Dr Rafique said that one of the reasons for transmission in younger people was their mobility and the susceptibility of them being smokers.

“We know that the disease is transmitted through droplets where the virus remains airborne for sometime and then lives for over 14 hours on different surfaces. Younger people are exposed to it more because of their mobility within and outside the country and because of their social habits. That is why it is so important to practice social distancing and stay at home inorder to break this chain.”

Younger people also tend to be asymptomatic which means they manifest only mild symptoms. When such individuals come into contact with many people who aren’t infected or vaccinated, the disease is likely to spread more quickly. If that person remains at home under quarantine when he experiences the mildest symptoms, the disease spread is likely to slow down. A high contact rate will contribute to a higher R0 value, explained Dr Rafique added: “Studies have also shows that people who smoke are at risk not only because of the state of their lungs and having compromised immunity, but also because the way people smoke cigarettes, there is frequent hand to mouth connection. The virus is transmitted from surfaces into a person through the oral inlets like face, nostril and mouth. So the likelihood of the younger generation where we have maximum number of smokers, contracting the virus is high.”

UAE statistics so far

Total positive cases : 468

Recoveries : 55

Death : 2