The fight against Covid-19 is set to be boosted by hot weather, though easing regulatory measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus at this stage would be detrimental, an official with the Ministry of Health and Child Care has said.
The director for Epidemiology and Disease Control Dr Portia Manangazira said hot weather was not favourable to the virus that causes Covid-19, but warned that Zimbabwe could not afford to ease its guard.
Scientists recently looked at the few small studies on the effects of the hot weather on Covid-19 and found there isn’t enough evidence to know if this is true.
Many of the largest outbreaks have been in regions where the weather is cooler, leading to speculation that the disease might begin to tail off with the arrival of summer. Many experts, however, have already cautioned against banking too much on the virus dying down over the summer.
Countries that have eased restrictions prematurely have paid a heavy price and Dr Manangazira believes these measures must stay for as long as there is no immunity to the virus.
“The warmer months will see less infections for a number of reasons — being a flu-type of virus SARS-COV-2 thrives in cold temperatures,” she said.
“In cold weather, people huddle together and tend to stay indoors and social distancing may not happen.
“Sunlight is good for general health and well-being, so a few hours out in the sun improve even lung health. However, we cannot afford to lift our guard.”
Despite operating in a difficult economic environment worsened by illegal sanctions imposed by the West, Zimbabwe’s health sector is not yet overwhelmed and to date, has recorded more than 70 percent recoveries.
The health services have identified gaps which need to be plugged, including the intensification of testing and supply of equipment to fight the virus.
The People’s Republic of China and other international partners have come in strong to support Zimbabwe’s response.
Dr Manangazira thanked international partners who have come to the country’s rescue, but noted that Zimbabwe was still lacking adequate resources to have a good chance of fighting the epidemic.
“We, however, remain with considerable gaps, especially in adequate detection, isolation, management and follow up of cases. Resources are needed to ensure the country detects all infections and manages them with minimal spread, severity and fatality.”
Dr Manangazira said some measures such as quarantining returnees may now become redundant, as local transmission intensifies, while testing each case may not add value where there are clear epidemiological linkages to confirmed cases as per surveillance (IDSR, WHO,2008) guidelines.
Meanwhile, in accordance with the AU PACT initiative, there is need to do more testing of people.
To this end, a population-based survey has been approved, while for effectiveness of the interventions there needs to be reviews and re-strategising in view of the localised epidemic, said Dr Manangazira.