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Greta Thunberg, the 17-year-old Swedish climate activist, urged young people to stay home after announcing she likely had the coronavirus disease COVID-19.
In an Instagram post Tuesday, Thunberg said she had recovered after isolating herself for the last two weeks. She said that around 10 days ago, she felt some symptoms of COVID-19, including fatigue, shivers, a sore throat, and a cough, and that her father, who traveled with her from Brussels, experienced more intense symptoms with a fever.
Thunberg said she could not get tested for COVID-19 in Sweden as she was not in need of emergency medical treatment.
"I have therefore not been tested for COVID-19, but it’s extremely likely that I’ve had it, given the combined symptoms and circumstances," Thunberg said.
The teen then urged young people to stay home even if they only had very mild symptoms, or none at all, as they could unwittingly spreading the disease to those more at risk of developing serious complications.
"THIS IS THE BOTTOM LINE: I almost didn’t feel ill," Thunberg said. "My last cold was much worse than this!"
Thunberg added that she wouldn't have suspected anything had her father not experienced the similar symptoms.
"And this is what makes it so much more dangerous," Thunberg wrote. "Many (especially young people) might not notice any symptoms at all, or very mild symptoms. Then they don’t know they have the virus and can pass it on to people in risk groups. We who don’t belong to a risk group have an enormous responsibility, our actions can be the difference between life and death for many others."
She urged people to "flatten the curve" and follow the advice of medical experts and local authorities.
The activist's words echoed warnings of public health officials who have said young people could not only get seriously ill or die from the virus, but endanger the lives of more vulnerable populations.
"I have a message for young people: You are not invincible. This virus could put you in hospital for weeks or even kill you," the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said recently. "Even if you don't get sick, the choices you make about where you go could be the difference between life and death for someone else."
In the US, nearly 40% of those sick enough to be hospitalized from the virus were between the ages of 20 to 54, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Thunberg has previously called on her followers to engage in digital climate strikes in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
"We can’t solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis and we must unite behind experts and science," Thunberg said in a tweet. "We young people are the least affected by this virus but it’s essential that we act in solidarity with the most vulnerable and that we act in the best interest of our common society."
Greta Thunberg is 17 years old. An earlier version of this post misstated her age.