… Surge in cases linked to cold weather 

Staff Reporter

Several studies now show that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, is mutating. This means the virus’ genome is changing. The genome is a set of genetic instructions that contain all the information that the virus needs to function.

A mutated strain of SARS-CoV-2, originating from farmworkers in Spain, is suspected to be behind the second wave of Covid-19 infections in Europe.

A study by the University of Basel, Switzerland, and University of Valencia in Spain has found that a variant of SARS-CoV-2 emerged in early summer of 2020, presumably in Spain, and has since spread to multiple European countries.

Reports say that by October, the variant had been identified in 12 countries across Europe, as well as in Hong Kong and New Zealand.

Health Minister Dechen Wangmo in an earlier interview with Kuensel said that a second wave, should it come, in general, could come in either of the two phases – when the virus mutates and starts re-infecting the population or when lockdowns and restrictions are lifted too far and rapidly.

Studies have also shown that the changing weather (hot to cold) could also increase the spread of the virus.

According to a report by Peter Gajdos of the University of Pennsylvania, with colder weather and Covid-19 fatigue setting in, cases are surging rapidly in most countries across the northern hemisphere.

In his report, he states that the increased cases from the second wave of the pandemic hitting countries in the northern hemisphere could be because of the weather. Dr Flegr explains that every decrease of 1 degree Celsius (1.8°F) in temperature represents a 3 percent increase in Covid-19 virus transmissibility.

Other studies also show similar results. A thorough analysis of 17 studies determined that virus transmission decreases with increased temperature and humidity and vice versa. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0238339

In absence of a vaccine, experts highly recommend practising public health measures such as regularly washing hands with soap, wearing a face mask in public, minimising public gathering and practising physical distancing to break the chain of transmission.