Including US President Donald Trump, many hope that the flu season usually gets moderate during the warm temperatures in March and April but scientists are not sure whether the warmer conditions help to stem the coronavirus outbreak.
Even though the Coronavirus family includes several other viruses, only seven of them can affect humans. Four of these viruses can cause just cold but others, including COVID-19, are more deadly in nature. These seven Coronaviruses are thought to be transmitted from animals like bats and camels.
New coronavirus reaction to seasonal change
As per the medical experts, while the virus that triggers influenza, tend to slow down during warmer months, it's highly uncertain that the new coronavirus will behave the same way. Researchers, currently studying the SARS-CoV-2, said that it will be too early to predict how the new coronavirus will respond to the changing weather conditions.
Although WHO insists that the outbreak has not become a pandemic, the latest coronavirus update revealed that more than 80,000 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in 34 different countries. As per the experts, this virus is likely to keep spreading.
In 2017, a study published in the journal PLOS showed how environmental conditions affect viral transmission. The research also looked at how influenza spreads through guinea pigs infected in a lab. The team of scientists noticed that high temperature and high humidity slowed the spread of the virus and at a very high temperature the virus stops spreading.
Since warmer air holds more moisture, which prevents airborne viruses from travelling, even studies outside the lab conditions showed similar outcome, though there are arguments that some tropical regions have more cases of flu during the rainy season.
As reported by the National Geographic, the director of the Columbia University's Center for Infection and Immunity, Ian Lipkin who has been studying the novel coronavirus stated that sunlight, which is less can also help break down viruses that have been transmitted to surfaces and added that "UV light breaks down nucleic acid. It almost sterilizes [surfaces]. If you're outside, it's generally cleaner than inside simply because of that UV light."
It should be mentioned that UV rays are effective at killing the bacteria and virus as these are often used in the hospitals to sterilize medical equipment.
What scientists are doing about coronavirus?
Even though the new coronavirus and flu are similar respiratory diseases, there is no clear understanding of the the former. Scientists are comparing it with outbreaks such as SARS, which started in 2002 November and ended in July 2003 and MERS that began in September 2012 in Saudi Arabia.
Even though these two outbreaks mark seasonality, Marc Lipsitch, a Harvard epidemiologist doesn't think that weather changes will slow down the spread of novel coronavirus. David Heymann from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine insisted that the researchers hardly know about the new virus to predict how it will change with different seasons.
"The risk of making predictions without an evidence base is that they could if they prove to be wrong, be taken as verity and give false security. The emphasis today should continue to be on containment to elimination where possible," he said.
However, WHO has recommended some safety measures to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus which include frequently washing hands, avoiding close contacts with people who are showing symptoms like cold and cough as well as sneezing, and visiting doctor if anyone feels sick.