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Younger adults can get the coronavirus too

A woman sits on a couch reading a book.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has a message for young people: The coronavirus doesn't care how old you are. Anyone of any age can get COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

The disease does appear to hit older people harder. But younger people are not invincible. They can come down with COVID-19 too.

Be a protector

Although their illness is more likely to be milder, there are good reasons for young people to take precautions against the coronavirus. Some younger people do get severely ill. But even if they don't, they can still infect people around them. That might include older people and those with chronic conditions, who are at risk for severe illness and even death.

COVID-19 is mainly spread from person to person. It's transmitted through droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land on people who are nearby or can be inhaled into the lungs.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests everyone take steps to avoid spreading the infection. That includes:

  • Staying home as much as possible.
  • Staying at least 6 feet away from people when in public.
  • Wearing a cloth face mask in public.
  • Washing your hands well and often.
  • Covering your coughs and sneezes with a face mask, tissue or elbow.
  • Not touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Disinfecting shared surfaces daily.
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.

Nurture your health

These healthy habits can also help you stay well, according to WHO:

  • Eat a nutritious diet. That includes limiting alcohol and sugary drinks. This can help keep your immune system strong.
  • Don't smoke. COVID-19 affects the lungs. Smoking can increase your risk of developing severe symptoms if you have the virus.
  • Get regular exercise. Aim for about 30 minutes a day. Children should be active for at least an hour a day.
  • Stay tuned in to your mental health. Stress can make you more vulnerable to illness. Relax by listening to music, reading a book or playing a game. And cut back on your daily diet of news if it's making you anxious.

For more information about COVID-19, visit our Coronavirus health topic center.

Reviewed 6/3/2020

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