Article Text

Download PDFPDF
COVID-19: lessons to date from China
  1. Xiaoxia Lu1,
  2. Yuhan Xing2,
  3. Gary Wing-Kin Wong2
  1. 1 Department of Respiratory Medicine, Wuhan Children's Hospital, Wuhan, Hubei, China
  2. 2 Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, Prince of Wales Hospital, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, Hong Kong, China
  1. Correspondence to Dr Gary Wing-Kin Wong, Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, Prince of Wales Hospital, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin HK23, Hong Kong, China; wingkinwong{at}


The pandemic due to a novel coronavirus has been sweeping across different regions of the globe since January 2020. Early reports of this infection due to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) consisted of mostly adult patients. As the outbreak spreads rapidly beyond the epicentre of Wuhan, it becomes clear that infants and children of all ages are susceptible to this infection. In China, there have been more than 1200 paediatric cases. Most paediatric patients acquire the infection through household contact with infected adults. The disease in children is usually self-limiting and most infected children will recover uneventfully within 7–10 days. Other than symptoms of the respiratory tract, many children may present with gastrointestinal symptoms. Older children are more likely to have asymptomatic infection. Although deaths related to SARS-CoV-2 are rarely reported in the paediatric age group, young children and those with underlying medical conditions are more likely to develop severe illness. Only a small fraction of neonates born to infected mother would acquire the virus by vertical transmission. Because a large proportion of children and adolescents may have asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic infection, children are likely to play an important role in community transmission of this infection. Screening of children who have a definitive contact history will facilitate early diagnosis and isolation of all infected children. This review summarises the lessons learned in China with regard to the current understanding of SARS-CoV-2 infection in the paediatric population.

  • epidemiology
  • microbiology

This article is made freely available for use in accordance with BMJ’s website terms and conditions for the duration of the covid-19 pandemic or until otherwise determined by BMJ. You may use, download and print the article for any lawful, non-commercial purpose (including text and data mining) provided that all copyright notices and trade marks are retained.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Contributors XL and YX have contributed equally to the review of literature and manuscript preparation. All authors prepared the first draft and revised the subsequent version of the draft.

  • Funding This work has been partly supported by the TS Lo Foundation.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data sharing not applicable as no datasets generated and/or analysed.