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Current Affairs

Monsoon and Coronavirus spread

Date: 15 June 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Since COVID-19 is a new virus, scientists are not yet sure how the rain might affect its behaviour. So the effort is to look for clues in the way other similar viruses behave during the rainy season.

 

Background

Some months ago, when the novel coronavirus epidemic was still emerging in India, it was hoped that rising temperature in the summer months would weaken the potency of the virus and slow down its spread. That did not happen.

 

Details

  • Rain brings with it several vector borne diseases like malaria, dengue and chikungunya. In the case of dengue, some studies have shown that excessive rains could disrupt the mosquito’s reproductive cycle and flush out its breeding sites.

  • But the comparison that is being made is that with influenza, which, like Covid-19, is a respiratory disease, though there are important differences in the way the two viruses replicate and affect human beings.

  • The problem is that even in the case of influenza, and several other viral respiratory diseases, the drivers for their seasonal behaviour are not fully understood.

  • There is no single factor like temperature or rainfall, or staying indoors that can be said to have decisive impact. Many other factors like sunlight, and Vitamin D levels in people are also responsible in how these diseases spread.

  • Researchers say that the viral disease spread depends on three major factors — seasonal changes in environment (temperature, humidity, and sunlight), human behavioural patterns, and intrinsic characteristics of the virus, like its infectiousness, pathogenicity and survival.

  • There are some things that can be expected during the rainy season that can have an impact on how such diseases spread. For example, spitting on the streets is a common problem that increases the risk of virus transmission. The hope is that rains will wash or dilute this off the streets.

  • Also, during rains, people spend an extended period of time within closed spaces, like homes or offices, and there is likely to be a lower number of people in crowded public spaces.