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Coronavirus | IIT, AIIMS see winter rise in COVID-19 cases

Disinfectant being sprayed by corporation staff. Representational photo.   | Photo Credit: Sandeep Saxena

Fall in temperature with seasonal progression towards winter will environmentally favour COVID-19 transmission in India, says a collaborative study conducted by Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bhubaneswar and All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Bhubaneswar.

As per the study titled ‘The COVID-19 spread in India and its dependence on temperature and relative humidity’ conducted by School of Earth, Ocean and Climate Sciences of IIT-Bhubaneswar and Department of Microbiology, AIIMS-Bhubaneswar, surface air temperature is closely related to COVID-19 and its spread.

“Low temperature and high humidity appear to favour the spread of the disease. An increase in temperature by one degree leads to a 0.99% decrease in the number of COVID-19 cases,” it says.

“In terms of doubling time, a one-degree rise in temperature leads to slowing by 1.13 days. Similarly, an increase in 10% relative humidity leads to an increase in doubling time by 1.18 days,” finds the study.

According to five researchers V. Vinoj, N. Gopinath, K. Landu, B. Behera and B. Mishra, the respiratory viral pandemics of the 21st century (SARS-CoV-2 in 2003, Influenza AH1N1 in 2009) have revealed that seasonality in environmental factors play a role in the dynamics of their spread.

These researchers tried to observe state-level relationship between environmental factors such as temperature, relative humidity, specific humidity, and solar radiation on the COVID-19 spread over the Indian region.

“The progression of the season towards monsoon, post-monsoon, and after that winter with a continuous reduction in temperature will prove a significant challenge for health workers and policymakers attempting to enforce mitigation and control measures,” said Vinoj V, assistant professor at School of Earth, Ocean and Climate Sciences of IIT-Bhubaneswar.

“The mean difference of as high as 7 degree Celsius between summer and winter points to a possibility for greater potential spread of COVID-19 from an environmental perspective,” said Mr. Vinoj.

Recommending that policymakers should take targeted decisions that may also include environmental information to slow the spread, the study says the actual spread will eventually depend on human intervention, such as strict enforcement of universal masking, physical distancing, and improved hand hygiene and possible commencement of herd immunity.

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Printable version | Jun 23, 2021 6:01:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/iit-aiims-bhubaneswar-predict-rise-in-covid-19-spread-towards-winter/article32132249.ece

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