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Written by Dr Swati Rajagopal

Source: https://www.newindianexpress.com/

BENGALURU: Will warmer weather check the spread of the novel coronavirus? Health professionals hope so, but they are not sure. While viral infections generally come down during summer, not much is known about the behaviour of the newly discovered deadly virus which is creating havoc worldwide.
Most viruses and bacteria do not survive in higher temperatures and this reduces the spread of virus during summer.

Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases director Dr Nagaraj says, “We are expecting the new coronavirus cases to drop during the summer. We are already seeing a 50 per cent drop in the number of people coming for screening over the past weeks. But we cannot say (anything about the coronavirus) as it is new. We are hoping for the best.”

Fortis Hospitals’ Central Infection Prevention and Control Committee chairman Dr Murali Chakravarthy expects new coronavirus cases to drop during the summer. “Viruses are extremely sensitive... They survive longer in cold weather. In Europe and other cold regions, the humidity is less. When the air becomes dry, the entire breathing passage dries up which results in the secretion becoming harder. In order to get the secretion out, one tends to cough more often and this results in the spread of the infection. During summer, breathing the humid air makes the secretion semi-solid or liquid and one can cough once and spit it out”, he points out. 

Infectious diseases physician Dr Vinay D of Apollo Hospitals, Bannerghatta Road, says, “With a dip in the atmospheric temperature, the body temperature too goes down, resulting in low immunity. But during summer, immunity is higher and the infections are not spread. But in the case of coronavirus, we cannot say anything as nothing much is known about it. We can just hope that it will come down in summer like the other viruses.”

Dr Raghu J, senior consultant, internal medicine, Sakra World Hospital, warns against dropping guard during summer though the spread of viruses is less. He also points out that the mortality rate is COVID-19 cases is three per cent as against upto five in H1N1. “Right now the severity is not that much in India” he says.

Dr Swati Rajagopal, consultant, infectious diseases and travel medicine at Aster CMI Hospital, feels it is too early to assume that warmer weather will check COVID-19. 

“SARS and MERS have been unpredictable and they haven’t been seasonal too. Experts believe that even if the new coronavirus would be less active during summer, it would return if we didn’t control the outbreak now. Public health measures, government policies and improved diagnostics would hold the key in controlling COVID-19.”

When and how to use masks

Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing. Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

Clean your hands before putting on a mask. Make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask. Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not re-use single-use masks.

How to quarantine

  1. Keep to your own bedroom
  2. Don’t share dishes, towels or bedding
  3. Restrict activities outside your home, except when you need to go to the doctor
  4. Don’t use public transport
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