More than 2,700 people have now died due to coronavirus, known as COVID-19, since the outbreak began in late December. However, as we move from the cold winter into, hopefully, a warmer spring, scientists are semi-optimistic the coronavirus strain could show signs of seasonality and ease off over spring and summer much like flu.

Viruses like the flu are more prominent in the winter months as cold air and low humidity help viruses remain stable in the air.

Contrarily, in the warmer months the higher humidity means virus ‘droplets’ become swamped by vapour, which makes them more dense and ultimately fall to the floor.

Additionally, the Sun’s ultraviolet light, which there is more of in the summer, helps to sterilise and kill bacteria.

Ian Lipkin, director of the Columbia University’s Center for Infection and Immunity, told National Geographic: “UV light breaks down nucleic acid. It almost sterilises surfaces. If you’re outside, it’s generally cleaner than inside simply because of that UV light.”

Scientists are unable to determine whether this will happen with the current strain of coronavirus as it has only been present in the winter months, with only a few cases coming in the southern hemisphere where it is currently summer.

As a result, there is little information to go on, so it’s difficult to tell whether the current wintry conditions have helped facilitate the spread of the potentially deadly disease.

Scientists say they now have to play the waiting game to see whether spring brings a reprieve.

Stuart Weston, a researcher at the University of Maryland, told National Geographic: “I hope it will show seasonality, but it’s hard to know.”

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However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged people to stay on alert.

WHO’s Dr David Nabarro told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “What the World Health Organisation is encouraging is a mindset to get ready for the arrival of this illness and to be prepared for the steps that have to be taken to do it effectively and together.

“And for people everywhere to be part of the response.

“It won’t be easy, there will be times when it feels very uncomfortable for people and sometimes really interrupting their daily lives but we’ve all got to work together in this.

“It’s not a political issue, it’s not even an issue between different countries. It’s really an issue for the whole world.”



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