Covid19 could get worse in winter: DAK

With the novel coronavirus showing no signs of slowing down, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Saturday warned that Covid-19 could get worse in winter.

“We could have further surge in Covid-19 cases this winter,” said DAK President and influenza expert Dr Nisar ul Hassan. Quoting a study from University of Sydney, he said cold and drier conditions of winter could cause a higher risk of Covid-19 infection. The increased risk is mainly because of low humidity during wintertime.

The study found for every 1 percent drop in humidity, the number of Covid-19 cases could increase by 6 percent. Dr Nisar said low humidity is the main driver of virus transmission.

When an infected person coughs or sneezes or even talks, he/she produces infectious droplets that can hang around for longer in drier air with low humidity. And that increases the exposure for other people. He said respiratory viruses including Covid-19 tend to thrive in cooler weather conditions. They survive outside better when it is cold.

“Low temperatures could slow down the normal mucus clearing of infective viruses in our nasal passages,” he added.

“Winter is also the time when people tend to spend more time indoors when ventilation is less and social distancing not so easily achieved.”

Dr Nisar said there is a possibility of a strong wave of Covid-19 infection in Kashmir valley this winter and it could coincide with annual flu season, and this double whammy could cause the health system to grind to a halt. “We must prepare now for this new challenge,” he said.