< Vulnerables

Why do we have to be careful if we live with a vulnerable person?

Text updated on 2020-05-03

Applying simple rules reduces the risk of the vulnerable person you live with from getting sick!

Rest assured, the transmission of COVID-19 within a household can be prevented by adopting appropriate behaviours.

In China, a person living in the household of an infected person has an average 15% chance of catching it. And this figure drops to 0% for people who have spontaneously quarantined themselves at home. We haven't yet taken all the solutions from Asian countries, but it's time to get used to them!

Elderly people (> 65 years of age) are 50% more likely to be infected with SARS-CoV-2 than adults, and symptoms are often more severe. The same is true for people with signs of co-morbidities such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular problems, kidney failure, or immunosuppression.

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The epidemiological study in China of 105 cases of COVID-19 and their close contacts revealed that secondary transmission of SARS-CoV-2 occurred in 64 of 392 household contacts (16.3%). The secondary attack rate in children was 4% compared to 17.1% in adults. The secondary attack rate among household contacts with self-quarantined reference patients since symptom onset was 0%, compared to 16.9% among contacts without quarantined reference patients. The secondary attack rate for contacts who were spouses of index cases was 27.8%, compared with 17.3% for other adult household members.

Li, W., Zhang, B., Lu, J., Liu, S., Chang, Z., Cao, P., ... & Chen, J. (2020). The characteristics of household transmission of COVID-19. Clinical Infectious Diseases.

In Shenzhen, according to an epidemiological study of 391 cases of COVID-19, the percentage of household contacts (those sharing an apartment, room, or bed) who were later confirmed to be infected with SARS-CoV-2 was estimated at 15%.

Bi, Q., Wu, Y., Mei, S., Ye, C., Zou, X., Zhang, Z., Liu, X., Wei, L., Truelove, S. A., Zhang, T., Gao, W., Cheng, C., Tang, X., Wu, X., Wu, Y., Sun, B., Huang, S., Sun, Y., Zhang, J., Ma, T., ... Feng, T. (2020). Epidemiology and transmission of COVID-19 in 391 cases and 1286 of their close contacts in Shenzhen, China: a retrospective cohort study. The Lancet. Infectious diseases, S1473-3099(20)30287-5.

Further reading

What should I do when I need to visit a vulnerable person?

How do you live with a vulnerable person?

Do all infected people show symptoms?