Exploring the young demographic profile of COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong: Evidence from migration and travel history data

Cruz C.J.P.,
Ganly R.,
Li Z.,
Gietel-Basten S.
Document Type
Source Title
Public Library of Science


This paper investigates the profile of COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong, highlighting the unique age structure of confirmed cases compared to other territories. While the majority of cases in most territories around the world have fitted an older age profile, our analysis shows that positive cases in Hong Kong have been concentrated among younger age groups, with the largest incidence of cases reported in the 15-24 age group. This is despite the population's rapidly aging structure and extremely high levels of population density. Using detailed case data from Hong Kong's Centre for Health Department and Immigration Department, we analyze the sex and age distribution of the confirmed cases along with their recent travel histories and immigration flows for the period January to April 2020. Our analysis highlights Hong Kong's high proportion of imported cases and large overseas student population in developing COVID-19 hotspot areas such as the United Kingdom. Combined with community action and targeted and aggressive early policy measures taken to contain the virus, these factors may have contributed to the uniquely younger age structure of COVID-19 cases in the city. Consequently, this young profile of confirmed cases may have prevented fatalities in the territory. Recent research has highlighted the importance of a demographic approach to understanding COVID-19 transmission and fatality rates. The experience in Hong Kong shows that while an older population age structure may be important for understanding COVID-19 fatality, it is not a given. From a social science perspective at least, there is 'no easy answer' to why one area should experience COVID-19 differently from another. © 2020 Public Library of Science. All rights reserved.

Migration angle
Region/Country (by coverage)
Index Keywords

adolescent; adult; age distribution; aged; aging; Article; child; city; coronavirus disease 2019; demography; female; health care policy; Hong Kong; human; infant; male; migration; mortality rate; newborn; population density; sex; travel; virus transmission; Betacoronavirus; communicable disease control; Coronavirus infection; middle aged; pandemic; population dynamics; preschool child; sex ratio; very elderly; virus pneumonia; young adult; Adolescent; Adult; Age Distribution; Aged; Aged, 80 and over; Betacoronavirus; Child; Child, Preschool; Communicable Disease Control; Coronavirus Infections; Emigration and Immigration; Female; Hong Kong; Humans; Infant; Infant, Newborn; Male; Middle Aged; Pandemics; Pneumonia, Viral; Population Dynamics; Sex Distribution; Travel; Young Adult