Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 8 April 2020

Coronavirus: could warmer weather be key to fight against Covid-19?

New study indicates changes in temperature have 'significant impact' on spread of virus, which could be most potent in cooler climes

Rising temperatures could curb the threat of coronavirus, a new study indicated.

Research by a team from Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China, suggested the arrival of warmer weather could slow the global spread of the disease.

The report found changes in season and temperature "could significantly change Covid-19 transmission" and "there might be a best temperature for viral transmission".

For regions with cooler temperatures, the authors advised that "strict prevention and control measures should be continued".

The findings were published last month and first reported by the South China Morning Post, although the study has not yet been reviewed by peers.

The researchers pointed to a prior analysis of the effect of temperature on the spread of Sars.

It revealed that the temperature in the four major affected cities, including Beijing and Guangzhou, was "significantly related" to the outbreak.

"Studies found that during the outbreak of Sars in 2003, when the temperature was low, the risk of increasing daily incidence rate could be 18.18 times higher than that under higher temperature," the researchers said.

"This finding could be a clue for us to understand the temperature-transmission relation of Covid-19 as it shares genetic similarities with Sars."

The study looked at the new daily confirmed cases of Covid-19 officially reported in China and other countries from January 20 to February 4, a time that allowed a full incubation period of the virus.

Average, minimum and maximum temperatures of all affected cities from January 1 to 30 were collected from the meteorological authority in China and in other countries.

"There is a best temperature contributing to its transmission and that low temperature is beneficial to the viral transmission," they found.

The report said: "The emergence of the outbreak in Wuhan and its neighbouring areas may be closely related to the local temperature."

Global coronavirus cases passed 109,000 on Monday as governments around the world put in place containment measures that include limiting travel, closing schools and allowing employees to work from home.

At least 3,800 deaths have been reported so far, but the number is rising by the hour.

Public health officials have guarded against asserting the virus will be seasonal and ebb in the summer, like the flu.

“We have to assume that the virus will continue to have the capacity to spread,” Dr Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organisation's health emergencies programme, said at the agency’s headquarters in Geneva last week.

“It’s a false hope to say, yes, that it will disappear like the flu.”

WHO officials have warned against making assumptions about Covid-19.

“This is a unique virus, with unique features. This virus is not influenza,” director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said last week. “We are in uncharted territory.”

Updated: March 10, 2020 04:34 AM

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