Coronavirus transmission increases in lower temperature: Medical study

Topics Coronavirus | China | Xi Jinping

Passersby wearing protective masks walk on a snow-covered street in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan. Reuters
The Coronavirus outbreak could have been triggered by lower temperatures, which provided for easy transmission of the virus. A new medical study, published by medRxiv, a “preprint server for the health sciences”, suggests that temperature factors could significantly change the impact of COVID-19, with the virus transmission increasing in places with lower temperatures.

The study, conducted by Mao Wang, Mao Wang, Aili Jiang, Lijuan Gong, Lina Lu, Wenbin Guo, Chuyi Li, Jing Zheng, Chaoyong Li, Bixing Yang, Jietong Zeng, Youping Chen, Ke Zheng, Hongyan Li at the Sun Yat-sen University in China, calls for countries and regions with lower temperatures to adopt the strictest control measures to prevent future transmission and outbreaks.

Exploring the role of temperature in the transmission of the deadly virus, the study states: "There is a certain temperature that best fits the benefit of the virus and that lower temperature contributes to the transmission. This could be closely related to Wuhan and its neighboring areas, the epicentre of the outbreak."

The researchers collected the cumulative number of confirmed cases of all cities and regions affected by COVID-19 in the world between January 20 and February 4, 2020, and found that in lower temperature, every 1 degree Celcius increase in the average minimum and maximum temperatures led to an increase of 0.83, 0.82 and 0.83 in the number of cases, respectively.

A man wearing protective mask makes a snowman at Sapporo Odori Park in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan. Reuters

"The fact that the outbreak emerged in Wuhan and its neighboring areas could be closely related to the temperature of the local region. The results indicate that strict public health strategies shall be continued when the temperature would drop in most parts of the country so as to prevent reversal of the epidemic," the non-peer reviewed study noted.

Earlier in the day, the World Health Organization (WHO) said there were more new cases of the coronavirus outside China than inside the hard-hit country, marking a shift in the outbreak. "Yesterday, the number of new cases reported outside China exceeded the number of new cases in China for the first time," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told diplomats in Geneva.

Italy saw a fresh jump in the number of cases of the new coronavirus on Wednesday, with another death also being reported (taking the total to 12), besides 374 infections.

An employee from a disinfection service company sanitizes the floor of a bus garage in Seoul, South Korea. Reuters

Coronavirus cases have surfaced in about 30 other countries so far, and some three dozen deaths have been reported. Growing outbreaks in Iran, Bahrain and South Korea have raised concerns that Coronavirus might surface in other nations and worsen in nations that have already reported infections.

Meanwhile, the total death toll related to the epidemic climbed to 2,715, with 52 new fatalities as the confirmed cases rose to 78,064, amid strong signs of viral slowing down in China. The country's National Health Commission (NHC said in its daily update that it received reports of 52 deaths, all from Hubei, and 406 new confirmed cases of the novel Coronavirus infection from all over the country. Hubei and Wuhan, with a combined population of over 50 million, have been under a lockdown since January 23, with all public and private transportation remaining suspended.

Earlier today, an Indian Air Force team carrying around 15 tonnes of medical supplies also left for Wuhan. The C-17 military aircraft will bring back over 80 Indians and around 40 citizens from the neighbouring countries. "The assistance being sent today is also a mark of friendship and solidarity from the people of India for the people of China, as the two countries also celebrate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations this year," the MEA said in a statement.

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