More than 3,000 people have lost their lives to the coronavirus known as COVID-19 as almost 90,000 people have been hit by the virus. A total of 13 more cases have been confirmed in the UK, taking the total number in the country to 36.
While medical experts are hoping the disease may ease up as the northern hemisphere heads into spring, some are warning that it could rear its ugly head over and over again.
Health experts believe it could die down a little in the warmer months of the year, but that it will be here to stay unless a vaccine is found.
Amesh Adalja, an infectious-disease expert at the Johns Hopkins Centre for Health Security, told Business Insider: “This is going to be with us for some time – it’s endemic in human populations and not going to go away without a vaccine.
“It may decrease in transmission frequency so that you’ll be able to have time to get a vaccine scaled up by the next appearance of it.”
Coronavirus update: Virus could be here to stay, experts warn
Coronavirus death rate
As we move from the cold winter into, hopefully, a warmer spring, scientists are semi-optimistic the coronavirus strain could show signs of seasonality and ease off over spring and summer much like flu.
Viruses like the flu are more prominent in the winter months as cold air and low humidity help viruses remain stable in the air.
Contrarily, in the warmer months the higher humidity means virus ‘droplets’ become swamped by vapour, which makes them more dense and ultimately fall to the floor.
Additionally, the Sun’s ultraviolet light, which there is more of in the summer, helps to sterilise and kill bacteria.
READ MORE: Coronavirus crisis: Eurozone faces RECESSION as outbreak sparks crisis
“This is going to be with us for some time”
Ian Lipkin, director of the Columbia University’s Center for Infection and Immunity, told National Geographic: “UV light breaks down nucleic acid. It almost sterilises surfaces. If you’re outside, it’s generally cleaner than inside simply because of that UV light.”
Scientists are unable to determine whether this will happen with the current strain of coronavirus as it has only been present in the winter months, with only a few cases coming in the southern hemisphere where it is currently summer.
As a result, there is little information to go on, so it’s difficult to tell whether the current wintry conditions have helped facilitate the spread of the potentially deadly disease.
Scientists say they now have to play the waiting game to see whether spring brings a reprieve.
Italy is the worst effected country in Europe
Stuart Weston, a researcher at the University of Maryland, told National Geographic: “I hope it will show seasonality, but it’s hard to know.”
David Heymann from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said it would be dangerous to make predictions.
He said: “The risk of making predictions without an evidence base is that they could, if they prove to be wrong, be taken as verity and give a false security.
“The emphasis today should continue to be on containment to elimination where possible.”