Apr 06, 2020

COVID-19 spread may be slowing in high temperature - SL researcher

The COVID-19 pandemic may not spiral out of control in countries such as Sri Lanka due to its high temperature and high humidity levels as it has been noticed that the pandemic is causing a wider spread in low temperature countries, independent local researcher, Huzefa Akbarally said.

Akbarally told Daily Mirror that the Sri Lankan authorities had wasted no time in nipping this virus in the bud, by implementing strict preventive measures, but ongoing research has shown that this new SARS-CoV-2 virus had a wider spread in colder climates.  

"I have been collaborating with a team of medical experts based in Melbourne, who include Dr. Anver Sethwala, Prof. Nathan Better and Prof. Jeffrey Lefkovits," Akbarally said.

According to Dr. Anver Sethwala, experimental data on other corona viruses and in journals by researchers on SARS-CoV-2 suggests that this virus seems to be not doing well in local to local transmission at high temperatures and high humidity. However Sri Lanka is witnessing transmissions within family members, which is a cause of concern and this needs to be investigated.

If officials in Sri Lanka can figure this out, Sri Lanka can eliminate the virus from the country completely, Dr. Sethwala has said.

Stressing that Sri Lanka had a glimmer of hope due to its high humidity levels, evidence showed that when the COVID-19 had a rapid uncontrollable growth in cities such as Wuhan, Tehran, Milan, Madrid and New York, temperatures were colder with a relative humidity levels less that 75%.

The virus, Akbarally explains, seems to be doing an uncontrollable growth phase in temperatures ranging from 4 to 11 degrees.

In Sri Lanka, independent research showed that the virus is performing badly, which was a glimmer of hope. The local to local transmission recorded here was still being checked.

"There are a few clusters occurring here, like family members testing positive and this is very concerning.  Our medical researchers need to be confident as to the reason.  However, there is a glimmer of hope, that this coronavirus will not play a role like unchecked growths in other country," Akbarally said.  

"When it started surfacing in Sri Lanka, the first thing the command structure did was to take some stern action before it spirals out of control in local to local transmissions. People need to understand that they need to cooperate with the authorities and let the medical researchers do their job so that we can get rid of this new virus from here completely," Akbarally added.

The authorities, he explained seemed to be following the famous quote by Sun Tzu in Art of War: “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles”.

Another encouraging step in Sri Lanka has been that those returning from overseas were guided to quarantine centers.

While there were over 30 imported patients from these quarantine centers, it is noteworthy that there was only one case of local to local transmission within these centers.

"I suppose the main thing is to understand this enemy thoroughly and my glimmer of hope is we may come out of this as a very strong nation," he added.  

The heat in Sri Lanka is only to worsen in the coming days as the Meteorology Department yesterday said the Sun is going to be directly over the latitudes of the country during April 5 to 14. Temperatures are expected to go above 35 degrees.

The country has so far witnessed 171 positive cases out of which 29 have recovered while 5 people have died.

(Jamila Husian)

(dailymirror.lk)

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