Coffins for Covid-19 deaths are stacked at a warehouse in Johannesburg, which is in the middle of its southern hemisphere winter. Picture: AFP/MARCO LONGARI
Coffins for Covid-19 deaths are stacked at a warehouse in Johannesburg, which is in the middle of its southern hemisphere winter. Picture: AFP/MARCO LONGARI

Geneva — The spread of the novel coronavirus does not appear to be affected by seasonality, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said Tuesday, warning against false beliefs that summer is safer.

“Season does not seem to be affecting the transmission of this virus,” WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris told reporters in a virtual briefing. She pointed out that some of the hardest-hit countries are in the midst of different season.

While it is summer in the US, which, with nearly 148,000 deaths and close to 4.3-million cases, is the hardest-hit country, the second most affected country Brazil, which counts more than 87,000 deaths, is in winter.

And yet, she said, there “seems to be this fixed idea about this virus being seasonal”, and that Covid-19 will come in waves. This is because people are mistakenly viewing the pandemic through “a flu lens, because that is the way the flu behaves”.

“What we all need to get our heads around is that this is a new virus ... and even though it is a respiratory virus and even though respiratory viruses in the past did tend to do these different seasonal waves, this one is behaving differently,” Harris said.

Instead of expecting the virus to behave like other viruses that are more familiar, she said people should look at what is actually known about how to stop transmission of Covid-19.

What works, she said, is physical distancing; hand washing; wearing a mask, where appropriate; always covering up sneezes and coughs; staying home when experiencing symptoms; the isolation of cases and quarantining of contacts.

“But at the moment, we aren’t doing that, because people seem to have it fixed in their heads that it is seasonal thing and there seems to ... be this persistent belief that summer is not a problem,” Harris said.

“Summer is a problem. This virus likes all weathers, but what it particularly likes is jumping from one person to another when we come in close contact,” she said. “Let’s not give it that opportunity.”

AFP

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