WHO: Summer season won’t kill coronavirus

Published March 9, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

The World Health Organization (WHO) debunked the popular belief that the forthcoming summer season in the Philippines will kill the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19), saying there was no evidence to back such claim.

Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe (WHO Philippines official facebook page/ MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)
Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe (WHO Philippines official facebook page/ MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

In a press briefing in Malacañang, WHO representative in the Philippines Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe said SARS-CoV 2 is not similar to the SARS-CoV identified in 2003 that disappeared with the increase in ambient temperatures.

“What we have seen more recently is not supportive of that. We are seeing continuing transmission in very tropical countries like Singapore, Malaysia. And so, the evidence we have at this point is not supportive,” he said.

However, he said that while the longevity of the virus in warmer countries with high humidity was less compared to cold temperatures and low humid circumstances, there were still other factors that can contribute to an increase in the transmission.

“This could work in favor of lower levels of transmissions, but there are other factors such as overcrowding that could work negatively and contribute to increase transmission,” Abeyasinghe said. “So the actual outcome will depend on each country’s situation.”

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III likewise said it would be better if claims that the virus will die in high temperatures were true.

“Sana po totoo (I wish it were true). If that is true, then we should rejoice that summer is just around the corner. It will mean more sweats, more perspiration, but we don’t mind. The trade-off is well worth it,” he said.

“Ang masasabi lang po natin (What we can say) from the literature, from the journals that we read, that the virus is very difficult to inactivate when the temperature is low and when the humidity is dry. When there are low humidity and low temperature, it’s very difficult to neutralize the virus,” he added.

The Philippines is under a State of Public Health Emergency following the confirmation of local transmission of COVID-19. The Department of Health (DOH) has raised the country’s COVID-19 alert system to Code Red Sublevel 1, a “preemptive call” to ensure that the entire government and its agents, along with its healthcare providers, can prepare for possible COVID-19 upticks.