OBJECTIVE: To identify the epidemiological characteristics and transmission patterns of pediatric patients with the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in China.
METHODS: Nationwide case series of 2135 pediatric patients with COVID-19 reported to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention from January 16, 2020, to February 8, 2020, were included. The epidemic curves were constructed by key dates of disease onset and case diagnosis. Onset-to-diagnosis curves were constructed by fitting a log-normal distribution to data on both onset and diagnosis dates.
RESULTS: There were 728 (34.1%) laboratory-confirmed cases and 1407 (65.9%) suspected cases. The median age of all patients was 7 years (interquartile range: 2–13 years), and 1208 case patients (56.6%) were boys. More than 90% of all patients had asymptomatic, mild, or moderate cases. The median time from illness onset to diagnoses was 2 days (range: 0–42 days). There was a rapid increase of disease at the early stage of the epidemic, and then there was a gradual and steady decrease. The disease rapidly spread from Hubei province to surrounding provinces over time. More children were infected in Hubei province than any other province.
CONCLUSIONS: Children of all ages appeared susceptible to COVID-19, and there was no significant sex difference. Although clinical manifestations of children’s COVID-19 cases were generally less severe than those of adult patients, young children, particularly infants, were vulnerable to infection. The distribution of children’s COVID-19 cases varied with time and space, and most of the cases were concentrated in Hubei province and surrounding areas. Furthermore, this study provides strong evidence of human-to-human transmission.