The recent and dramatic change in local weather is unlikely to influence the ability of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) to spread, the Macau health authorities have informed.
Despite the rain and misty conditions typical of the Macau springtime, health officials say “there is no evidence at the moment that relates a faster spread of virus [to] different environment or temperature conditions.”
Specialists from Macau’s Health Bureau (SSM) remarked that so far, what is known about the virus indicates that it is self-sustaining and can spread in all weather conditions, as the number of different countries and regions currently affected shows.
The topic has been addressed several times and experts interviewed by media outlets seem unable to reach a consensus on the matter.
Amesh Adalja, an infectious diseases physician and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security who has mostly dealt with the coronavirus that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), has been quoted saying that this type of virus “doesn’t have that seasonality [that usually happens with flu viruses] because it’s an animal to human virus and not something that that you see causing disease in a seasonal pattern.”
Nevertheless, he notes that Covid-19 seems to act more like a seasonal cold.
“We’ve seen, basically, explosive spread inside China of person-to-person transmission, so in that sense it is behaving like a common-cold causing coronavirus,” says Adalja.
Based on this, he believes that “seasonality will play a role,” and that as the outbreak unfolds and we approach spring and summer it is likely that we will see a reduction in cases.
A similar opinion was expressed the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci.
“It’s not unreasonable to assume that cases will die down come spring,” Fauci said, adding, “We hope when the weather gets warmer it will diminish a bit. However, we don’t know that about this [new] coronavirus. We don’t have a backlog of history.”
Another expert taking a cautious approach was Nancy Messonnier from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Regarding the possibility that warmer weather conditions will contribute to a slowdown in cases, she said, “I think it’s premature to assume that. We haven’t been through even a single year with this pathogen.”
Messonnier added that due the degree of uncertainty with this new virus, public health officials must plan for the unexpected and for the possibility that the outbreak will continue regardless of the weather conditions.