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Novel coronavirus: Summer temperatures in India to keep virus at bay

Coronavirus: The virus remains active and stable when temperatures are around 4-6 degree Celsius and loses potency in warmer environment

Anwesha Madhukalya | Mudit Kapoor   New Delhi     Last Updated: February 15, 2020  | 16:11 IST
Novel coronavirus: Summer temperatures in India to keep virus at bay
Coronavirus news: Can summer prevent deadly virus from spreading in India?

Coronavirus: The deadly novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread with the death toll nearing 1,400. However, multiple researches show that there is a correlation between the deadly virus and changing temperatures. The novel coronavirus becomes increasingly ineffective with a rise in temperature and is more effective in lower temperatures. As temperatures start to rise in India due to the onset of the summer, the country is likely to be relatively safer from the deadly grip of the virus.

Warm temperature slows down coronavirus

According to a report by the National University of Singapore (NUS), there is reason to believe that the seasonal pattern of novel coronavirus is similar to that of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) or COVP9 that broke out in 2003. The research says that in countries such as China and US, flu season starts in December and peaks in January or February, following which it decreases. SARS coronavirus strain had also disappeared in the northern summer of 2003 after which it has not made any significant comeback. Researchers in NUS say that the novel coronavirus strain is similar to that of influenza infection and SARS and will ebb down by May, when temperatures spike up in China. 

Also read: Why coronavirus' impact on Chinese economy could affect India

The report says that regular coronavirus which is one of the causes of common cold survives 30 times longer in places with temperature of 6 degree Celsius as compared to places with temperature of 20 degree Celsius and high humidity. Other researches have also suggested that low temperatures allowed SARS virus to survive longer.

Similarly, a report in the peer-reviewed medical publication Journal of Hospital Infection, points out that human coronavirus can remain potent on inanimate surfaces at room temperature for up to 9 days but if the temperature is more than 30 degree Celsius then the duration of its potency remains shorter. Similar results were produced by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) that stated that the SARS coronavirus stayed stable at 4 degree Celsius, at room temperature and at 37 degree Celsius for at least 2 hours but were converted to non-infectious after 90, 60 and 30 minutes of exposure at 56, 67 and 75 degree Celsius respectively.

Also read: Coronavirus outbreak may put China's GDP, global economy in dire straits

Moreover, NUS states that person-to-person infection spreads faster during colder weather as more time is spent indoors and in closer contact to other people. The report further states that the novel coronavirus is similar to other respiratory viruses and can be spread by saliva droplets, phlegm by cough or sneeze etc. "That happens when a person touches a contaminated surface and then touches his or her nose, mouth or eyes, inadvertently transmitting the virus. In fact, studies have shown that these respiratory droplets spread farther when the air is cold and dry," states the report. Additionally, intensive use of air conditioning could also lend a lifeline to the virus.

Indian summer to keep coronavirus at bay

In light of these findings, India is set to be in a safer zone as temperatures have already started rising. Highest temperature a month from now will increase to around 36 degree Celsius in Kochi. Delhi will witness highest temperature of 30 degree Celsius, while Ahmedabad in Gujarat will record highest temperature of 34 degree Celsius, Hyderabad 38 degree Celsius, Kolkata 35 degree Celsius, Bengaluru 34 degree Celsius and Chennai 34 degree Celsius on March 14, according to AccuWeather.

Meanwhile in China, temperatures rise around March but April is when it really picks up. Summer sets in around May-June which is when the country sees its fair share of rain.

While the spread of coronavirus is still being looked into, researchers remain optimistic that the onset of summer in China will slow down the virus.

Also read: Coronavirus scare in India: Huge capacity to manufacture masks, gloves, but govt yet to place orders

Also read: Coronavirus: Why Xi Jinping did not wear the safer N95 mask to hospital

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