File photo: Coronavirus Photograph:( Reuters )
As the weather became warmer and humid, the rate of transmission fell
Summer is fast-approaching most parts of the world. However, it coincides with one of the biggest pandemics our societies have witnessed: the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
As of figures from today, more than 380,000 cases have been registered worldwide. Additionally, over 16,500 have died. The global tally of the recovered patients so far stands at 100,000.
Will the rise in temperatures across the globe mean a dip in the number of infected cases?
Many Chinese experts claim that high temperature and humidity can significantly reduce the transmission of the virus. The research was undertaken at Beihang and Tsinghua University in China.
The focus of the study was 100 Chinese cities. The scientists realised that the transmission rate varied across cities with different weather conditions.
They realised that as the weather became warmer and humid, the rate of transmission fell.
For every degree of rise in temperatures (in Celsius), the rate of transmission fell by 0.0383 points.
Similarly, for every one per cent increase in relative humidity, the transmission rate fell by 0.0224 points.
Even though an important development, the rise in temperature is simply not enough to slow down the spread of the virus.
As it turns out, heat weakens all kinds of viruses. The COVID-19 is capable of living on surfaces for many days.
During its initial period, countries that experience lower temperatures and humidity witnessed severe outbreaks. These include South Korea, Japan, and Iran.
On the other hand, warmer countries like Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand were able to contain it much quickly.
Another study conducted at the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland took a different approach.
The researchers mapped the outbreak in different regions and discovered that the most severe outbreaks happened in countries where the temperature ranged between five and 11 degree Celsius.
The virus was found to be clustered in a narrow band of consistently similar weather conditions across the northern hemisphere.
This zone included countries such as China, South Korea, Japan, Iran , Italy, France and the US Pacific Northwest.
The study has also indicated that the coronavirus could be a seasonal respiratory virus.
Both studies point out to the same verdict: the forthcoming summers could bring relief, but would it completely stop the virus? The answer remains no!
Many doctors have warned of the virus resurfacing during autumn, and reiterate the importance of maintaining personal hygiene and practicing social distancing.