A nurse wears protective gear in a ward dedicated for people infected with the new coronavirus at a hospital in Tehran, Iran. Picture: Mohammad Ghadamali/AP
A nurse wears protective gear in a ward dedicated for people infected with the new coronavirus at a hospital in Tehran, Iran. Picture: Mohammad Ghadamali/AP

‘False hope’ about virus spread

New research suggests one crucial factor could slow the spread of coronavirus, but the World Health Organisation is warning against "false hope".

A team from Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China published a new study last month - which has yet to be peer reviewed - that indicated temperature could play a role in the ability of the virus to spread.

The analysis found the number of virus cases decreased after average temperatures reached 8.72 degrees Celsius, meaning the "virus is highly sensitive to high temperature".

The study advised "countries and regions with a lower temperature adopt the strictest control measures".

Other similar viruses that cause the common cold and influenza also react to seasonal changes, but a separate study, which has also yet to be scientifically reviewed, expressed caution.

"Weather alone, (such as an) increase of temperature and humidity as the spring and summer months arrive in the Northern Hemisphere, will not necessarily lead to declines in case counts without the implementation of extensive public health interventions," the group of researchers, including epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch from Harvard's TH Chan School of Public Health, noted in the study.

Dr Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organisation (WHO) emergencies program, also warned there was no evidence the spread would wane during Europe's warm summer months.

"We do not know yet what the activity or the behaviour of this virus will be in different climatic conditions," he said.

"We have to assume that the virus will continue to have the capacity to spread."

He added: "It is a false hope to say, 'Yes, it will just disappear in summertime' like influenza virus … There is no evidence right now to suggest that that will happen."

Even if the virus' spread did slow as temperatures warm in northern hemisphere countries, countries like Australia that are heading into their winter will face an increasing challenge to contain the virus.

Iraqi workers spray disinfectant as a precaution against the coronavirus in the shrine of Imam Ali in Najaf, Iraq. Picture: Anmar Khalil/AP
Iraqi workers spray disinfectant as a precaution against the coronavirus in the shrine of Imam Ali in Najaf, Iraq. Picture: Anmar Khalil/AP

 

Over the weekend, more cases of coronavirus were confirmed, taking the total number of Australians who have tested positive to 75. Three people have died.

Across the world there have been 105,586 people diagnosed with the virus, and 3584 deaths, according to the last WHO update.

According to The Australian, the Morrison Government is this week expected to finalise an economic stimulus package worth almost $10 billion to offset the impact of the virus outbreak.

WHO said all countries should make containing the outbreak of the coronavirus, known as COVID-19, their top priority, pointing to Iran's "national action plan" to combat one of the world's worst outbreaks after a slow start.