UAE Covid-19 cases spike: Is cold weather a factor?

Dubai - Viruses mutate more effectively in colder climatic conditions, UAE doctors say.

Image: Wam
Image: Wam

By Nandini Sircar

Published: Tue 19 Jan 2021, 6:46 PM

Last updated: Tue 19 Jan 2021, 6:52 PM

The cold weather could be a potential reason for a spike in novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases, as UAE doctors said that viruses typically survive and reproduce more effectively in colder climatic conditions.

The cold and dry weather also makes it easier for the virus to spread and infect more people.

The UAE on Tuesday reported 3,491 cases of Covid-19.

Doctors said that dipping mercury levels may also reduce the immune response and make it harder for the body to fight off harmful microorganisms.

Dr Suhail Mohammed Marfani, a specialist in internal medicine at Prime Medical Centre in Al Qasimia Branch, Sharjah, said, “The SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19, belongs to the family of coronaviruses. Other members of the coronavirus family are influenza, rhinovirus, and respiratory syncytial virus. The relationship between the spike in Covid-19 and the winter season is not fully known. But scientifically speaking, there can be a spike in Covid-19 cases based on the behaviour of other family members of the coronavirus family.”

He added, “According to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Covid-19 may be seasonal and winter can be the favourite time of the year because viruses as a group survive in areas that are cold, humid and contain less ultraviolet (UV) rays.”

Part of its potency comes from the fact that the viruses change so quickly that the human body is rarely prepared for the next season’s strain.

Healthcare professionals also pointed out that the antibodies no longer recognise the virus, leading to a loss in immunity.

Viruses tend to be thriving on surfaces and in the air for a longer time during winter months.

Dr Dirar Abdullah, a consultant of internal medicine at Prime Hospital, Dubai, said, “Higher temperature and humidity will slow the spread of the viruses. It’ll survive longer in cold weather and low humidity and low UV rays, making it more infectious since it stays on surfaces and air for a longer time.

Besides, the human body produces lower levels of vitamin D with less exposure to sunlight, which, in turn, may lead to a weaker immune system.”

Dr Safdar Zabeth, a general practitioner at Medcare Medical Centre in Motor City & Discovery Gardens, Dubai, said: “During the cold season people spend more time indoors with the common symptoms such as sneezing, coughing and breathing on each other. Flu viruses survive and transmit more quickly in cold, dry air. The cold temperature lowers the nose and upper respiratory tract immune defences.”

Doctors explain the increased occurrence of common viral infections causing cold and cough also increases the propensity of droplet formation.

The inner lining of the nose is more prone for small ruptures in cold climates, creating further opportunities for the virus to invade.

Dr Prashant CK, a specialist physician at Aster Clinic, Ajman, said, “With the vaccination drive and rising temperatures in a couple of months from now, we can expect the number of Covid-19 cases to come down again. But it’s not just about the weather, cases will only come down if we continue to take precautionary measures. Proper use of face masks is the key along with other safety norms. All the good work by the authorities can come to fruition only if we fulfill our responsibilities to ourselves and our fellow residents sincerely.”

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