Hot weather could have affected initial coronavirus spread in Wuhan

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The report, published by researchers at Chengdu University on Information Technology in China, studied the monthly average temperature, humidity and downward short-wave ultraviolet radiation in the different provinces in China during the outbreak’s early stages. The research is the latest in a series of studies conducted in recent months that explain how weather conditions might change the contagion of the coronavirus.

The team of researchers said the function of the results they retrieved were incomplete, but they suggest that several meteorological factors may have contributed to forming the ideal breeding ground for the virus.

Analysing figures from the European Center for Long-Term Weather Forecast (ECMWF), the researchers compared the weather conditions with a number of confirmed infections from each region in China in January and February.

The results showed there are three key weather conditions in which the pathogen can thrive more.

Temperature is one of the conditions cited by the researchers who said the report “showed that COVID-19 cases were concentrated in the provinces with temperatures in [the] range of 0–10 degrees Celsius.”

Increased humidity and UV light from the sun are the other two key factors named by the researchers.

They also said that the strength of solar radiation may change how the virus spreads.

Places with a lower solar radiation saw a higher number of infections, according to the research.

Higher-elevation areas, which experience more powerful UV radiation due to their altitude, saw less contagion.

Regions with drier climates, and therefore fewer clods interfering with solar rays, also experienced less transmission.

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“The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau has a high altitude (approximately 4,000 m) and is subjected to strong solar radiation, resulting in a higher amount of UV-B radiation reaching the surface,” the researchers wrote about a large region of 965,000 square miles in southwest China.

“The weather in the arid region of the Northwest is clear with fewer clouds, and the radiation received on the surface is higher than in other parts of China,” the researchers stated in the report.

“As a result, it may be difficult for COVID-19 to spread in the plateau or the arid area in the northwest due to high UV-B radiation.”

AccuWeather Meteorologist Michael Steinberg said there are diverse factors that condition how much UV radiation reaches the Earth and seasonality is key to it.

Mr Steinberg said: ”UV radiation is emitted by the sun in a near-constant amount, but the amount that reaches the Earth varies.

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“It is partially blocked by the ozone layer and some kinds of clouds, especially thick ones, and influenced to a lesser degree by pressure, surface elevation, humidity, and several other factors.

“But the most important factors are the latitude, time of day, and time of year – these three determine the maximum possible level of UV – the actual amount is then determined by the other factors.”

The researchers’ findings, as well as earlier studies on the transmission of seasonal influenza, reveal that even just a month of favourable meteorological variation can greatly decrease infection.

“A further understanding of the environmental factors that are prevalent in the development of COVID-19 will help predict the potential risks of the global spread of this disease, and provide support for the prevention and surveillance of countries around the world,” they wrote.

When observing the summer in the United Stated, Mr Steinberg said humidity levels, temperature and radiation will be notably higher than in the winter, when the outbreak flared up.

“The amount of water vapour in the air (absolute humidity) and the specific humidity are typically much higher in the summer season, because the hotter air can hold more water vapour,” Mr Steinberg said.

“When the relative humidity (which is what weather reports usually present) is 100% in the winter at a temperature of 30 F, there is only about half as much actual water vapour in the air as in the summer when the relative humidity is 25% but the temperature is 84 F.”

As well as an increment in humidity, the strength of solar radiation also rises substantially in the US during summer season, Mr Steinber said.

“The seasonal variation is much greater at higher latitudes,” he said, “but on average across the United States, the daily high UV Index level might be 8-9 in the summer and 2-3 in the winter.”

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