After having endured the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic for nearly six months, most countries have adopted different measures and strategies to curb its transmission. At the onset of the novel Coronavirus early this year, China was experiencing its winter season at an average temperature of 1-11 degree Celsius. Though there has been limited evidence of the correlation between weather conditions and the spread of COVID-19, several research studies across the world indicate that weather conditions may not affect its progression.
However, some infectious diseases like flu and influenza spike in cold weather conditions while diseases like cholera grow during warm and rainy conditions. Scientific communities across the world are in the process of identifying whether such a pattern applies to COVID-19 as well. How weather affects the Coronavirus’ spread has been a concern, and only recently have we managed to gain some clarity on how changing seasons affect the virus.
How weather impacts similar disease-causing viruses
Since the Coronavirus is a new virus, healthcare researchers and experts are still unsure about how a change in weather may impact its behavior and spread. Hence, they are trying to compare this disease with other similar conditions like influenza (flu) to understand its behavior. Though there are many significant differences in how these two viruses replicate and affect individuals, there are some common symptoms they cause. Both COVID-19 and flu (caused by influenza A or influenza B viruses) are respiratory diseases. However, COVID-19 is not seasonal flu. In fact, researchers suggest that the COVID-19 transmission rate is greater and has a higher death rate than the flu.
Though it is not very clear why and how temperature and humidity impact the flu virus, the spread of flu viruses decreases in high humidity and high temperature. Based on studies by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), influenza viruses are also known to be more stable in the cold thereby leading to a higher transmission rate at 5°C and highly inefficient transmission at 30°C. On the other hand, there is no evidence so far to suggest that the rate of transmission of the COVID-19 slows down as per the changes in temperature or weather conditions. However, many experts do agree that colder temperatures or weather can make individuals more susceptible to contracting the Coronavirus.
Can the monsoon season impact the spread of the Coronavirus?
Whether a particular season contributes to the spread of the Coronavirus cannot yet be concluded and factors like temperature, humidity, rainfall, etc. are not proven to have a decisive impact on its spread. In addition, not much is known about how Coronavirus transmission happens through surfaces (as against human contact and through the air). Many have speculated that the rainy season could have an indirect effect on the spread of this virus. For example, spitting on the roads is a common and unhygienic practice in several parts of India, which increases the risk of virus transmission. It has been discussed that rainwater can dilute or wash away the virus from such contaminated surfaces. However, it must be noted that while rainfall has some dilution and cleansing effect, its efficacy in destroying the virus is not entirely known.
In general, during this time, spending time at home during monsoons may reduce your chances of getting infected by the Coronavirus as you will not come in contact with other people at crowded public places. Until medical science gathers more conclusive evidence of the seasonality influence on the spread of the Coronavirus, it is best to take care of yourself and your family members irrespective of weather conditions. For now, experts have stressed the importance of continuing to bring down the factors that cause uncontrolled spreading of the virus. Practicing proper hand hygiene and cough etiquette, wearing masks, avoiding crowded places, and being mindful of the contacts and interactions you make every day, will help protect yourself and those around you.
How to protect yourself against Coronavirus and other infectious diseases during monsoon?
According to experts, you should avoid going out and getting wet in the rain. If you start showing symptoms of cold and cough, you should stay at least six feet away from others. Also, keep changing your face masks as viruses can grow and thrive on surfaces and objects rapidly, especially during the rainy season. Apart from this, follow these precautions to protect yourself from COVID-19 and other diseases.
- Drink boiled, treated or purified water as it can be one of the many breeding sources for diseases like cholera, typhoid, jaundice, Hepatitis A, and gastroenteritis.
- Wash your hands with soap and water always before and after your meals, while sneezing and coughing, and after using the restroom.
- During monsoon, try to eat foods that help in boosting your immunity. For example, include more fruits and green leafy vegetables and herbs like garlic and pepper in your diet. Avoid or reduce consumption of food from outside during the rainy season.
- Make sure you stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and juices. Staying hydrated can help in fighting infections.
- Always cover your mouth and nose with a handkerchief while coughing or sneezing. It is best to wear a mask to ensure the safety of yourself and your family members.
- If you are already suffering from an infectious disease like influenza, avoid sharing your food and drinks with anyone.
- Avoid crowded places and limit your contact with others as much as possible to avoid spreading the infection further.
Prevention is the best cure
A host of factors drive the spread of infectious viruses like the novel Coronavirus, and weather conditions alone cannot alter the rate or intensity of the spread. While healthcare organizations and scientists continue to research the Coronavirus progression during summer, winter, and monsoon, it is essential to follow all the safety precautions to contain its spread. While clear evidence of the impact of high or low temperatures on the Coronavirus is not available, it is hoped that more studies and comprehensive data collection for at least a few more years will shed more light on the influence of environmental variables.