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A 12-year-old coronavirus patient 'fighting for her life' had no preexisting conditions, her family said

INSIDER logoINSIDER 3/23/2020 Haven Orecchio-Egresitz
a man wearing a blue hat © Claudio Furlan/Lapresse via AP
  • Emma, a 12-year-old girl from Georgia, tested positive for the coronavirus after being diagnosed with pneumonia.
  • The child's cousin told CNN that, as of Saturday, she was "fighting for her life" on a ventilator.
  • Emma had no pre-existing conditions, her cousin said.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Emma, a 12-year-old Georgia girl, was diagnosed with pneumonia on March 15. By Saturday, she was "fighting for her life" on a ventilator, her cousin told CNN.

"I know firsthand how dangerous it is," Justin Anthony, the cousin, told CNN about the coronavirus. "Everyone keeps saying 'it doesn't impact younger people.' But here's a 12-year-old fighting for her life. People need to practice social distancing. People need to take care of their children. People need to take this seriously." 

Emma, who is hospitalized at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta-Scottish Rite Hospital in Atlanta, had no pre-existing conditions and hadn't traveled anywhere recently, Anthony said. He told CNN that Emma's mother gave him permission to share her story.

While much of the concern around coronavirus has been focused on older adults and those who have pre-existing conditions, young adults, children, and infants can also develop severe infections from COVID-19.

In a peer-reviewed study released last week, scientists assessed the data on more than 2,000 pediatric patients across seven provinces in China who were diagnosed with the coronavirus between January 16 and February 8.

They found that 90% of the children were either asymptomatic or had mild or moderate COVID-19 symptoms, including 39% who developed pneumonia without showing obvious symptoms, around 50% who developed a fever, fatigue, sore throat, cough, or shortness of breath, and 4% who showed no symptoms at all.

However, 6% of the children developed critical or severe infections, including one 14-year-old boy in Hubei province who died of COVID-19 infection.

On March, 18, the World Health Organization cautioned parents to prepare to safeguard their children against the coronavirus. Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, head of WHO's emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, cited the study that was released a day earlier.

"What we need to prepare for is the possibility that children can also experience severe disease," Kerkhove told reporters. 

Americans ages 65 and older are still suffering the highest rates of death and serious illness

As of Saturday, Emma was still on a ventilator, but in stable condition, according to CNN.

Read the story on CNN here.
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