WHO Says 95 Percent of Coronavirus Deaths in Europe Were People Over 60 Years Old

But health officials warn young people not to disregard the severity of COVID-19

On, aid workers from the Spanish NGO Open Arms carry out coronavirus detection tests on the elderly at a nursing home in Barcelona, Spain. The initiative is part of a clinical trial led by doctors Oriol Mitja and Bonaventura Clotet, from the Lluita Foundation against AIDS and the Germans Trias Hospital, focused on cutting down virus transmission. Spain has seen Thursday a new record in virus-related fatalities that came as the country is seeing the growth of contagion waning, health ministry data showed placing Spain neck to neck with Italy, the country that saw the worst outbreak in Europe. The COVID-19 coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death Virus Outbreak , Barcelona, Spain - 01 Apr 2020
Nurse tests for coronavirus. Photo: Santi Palacios/AP/Shutterstock

In Europe, the vast majority of fatalities caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) are people older than 60, health officials reported.

On Thursday, Dr. Hans Kluge of the World Health Organization’s regional office for Europe said during a press conference that about 95 percent of the continent’s coronavirus-related deaths have been those over 60, according to the Associated Press.

Per Kluge’s update, more than half of those who died were over the age of 80, and 80 percent of victims had some other underlying condition that made them more susceptible.

“On a positive note,” Kluge said, according to the AP, “there are reports of people over the age of 100 who were admitted to hospital for COVID-19 and have now since made a complete recovery.”

Kluge also stated that young people should still not discount the severity of the contagious respiratory virus.

“The very notion that COVID-19 only affects older people is factually wrong; young people are not invincible” said Kluge. “… Severe cases of the disease have been seen in people in their teens or 20s, with many requiring intensive care and some, unfortunately, passing away.”

An elderly patient is helped by a doctor at one of the emergency structures that were set up to ease procedures at the Brescia hospital, northern Italy, . Italians woke up to yet further virus-containment restrictions after Premier Giuseppe Conte ordered restaurants, cafes and retail shops closed after imposing a nationwide lockdown on personal movement. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia Virus Outbreak, Brescia, Italy - 12 Mar 2020
An elderly patient is helped by a doctor in Brescia, Italy, on March 12. Luca Bruno/AP/Shutterstock

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According to data compiled by The New York Times, there have been more than 946,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and some 47,000 deaths worldwide, as of April 2.

Several European countries have been hit hardest by the virus, including Italy with 13,155 deaths and Spain with 10,003 deaths, according to the New York Times.

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Earlier this month, a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated that, even if they are less likely to die, young people are not immune to becoming seriously sickened by COVID-19.

The CDC findings, according to the Times, showed that 38 percent of patients hospitalized by the virus at the time were between the ages of 20 and 54.

And since symptoms don’t even present themselves in a portion of those infected by the virus, someone seemingly healthy could spread the virus to more at-risk people if not practicing social distancing and proper public health protocols.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.

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