An Alberta woman in her 20s has died after contracting COVID-19, making her the youngest reported fatality in Canada.
Public-health officials don't yet know if the woman, who was from the Edmonton region, had any underlying medical conditions.
Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer, said the case underscores the point public-health officials have been attempting to drive home since the outbreak began: young people are not immune from the worst symptoms of COVID-19.
"This is a tragic reminder that it is not only the elderly or those with underlying conditions who are at risk," Dr. Hinshaw said on Friday.
Dr. Hinshaw said she has heard people ask whether it would make sense to let the novel coronavirus spread among young people to allow a potentially low-risk group to build immunity. She said COVID-19 is too unpredictable.
“We don’t know who will have a severe case of this disease,” she said. “Some people who are young and healthy will go on to have severe disease or even die.”
Earlier this week, the province announced that a 34-year-old man in northern Alberta had died in what was, at the time, the youngest Canadian fatality. He had asthma. There have been other fatalities involving patients in their 40s.
In terms of hospitalizations and fatalities, COVID-19 disproportionately affects older people or those with underlying health conditions, but severe symptoms among young patients are not rare.
Recently released federal statistics showed that adults under the age of 40 account for 29 per cent of COVID-19 cases but only 10 per cent of hospital admissions.
In contrast, patients over the age of 60 represent roughly 30 per cent of Canada’s COVID-19 cases, but make up 62 per cent of both hospital and intensive-care admissions.
Earlier this week, Alberta released data that showed people under 44 represented about 18 per cent of the province's COVID-19 hospitalizations.
Alberta added has added 107 cases on Friday, bringing the provincial total to 1,075. Five additional people had died, bringing the total number of fatalities to 13. Eight of those deaths have been at a single long-term care in Calgary.
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