By Mark Puleo, AccuWeather staff writer
& Chaffin Mitchell, AccuWeather staff writer
& Adriana Navarro, AccuWeather staff writer
AccuWeather-(ENEWSPF)- The new coronavirus, and COVID-19, the disease it causes, took less than three months to travel around the world. After surfacing in late 2019, the virus has spread to more than 100 countries and, on March 13, 2020, the global death toll climbed above 5,000. The same day, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency in the United States.
On March 11, the World Health Organization officially declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic. This is the first pandemic in 11 years, according to the CDC.
The number of cases of COVID-19 outside of China exploded 13-fold over a two-week period covering late February into early March, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “Thousands more are fighting for their lives in hospitals. We are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity and by the alarming levels of inaction.”
Tedros said that of those infected, most will recover. Over 120,000 cases have been reported worldwide as of Wednesday, March 11, and more than 66,000 patients have recovered, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
After weeks of spreading through the United States, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases surpassed 1,700 cases and at least 40 deaths were blamed on the virus.
Weather and its potential impact on how COVID-19 behaves have remained a consistent focus since the outbreak erupted and experts are divided over what impact, if any, warmer weather will have on the spread of the outbreak.
Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, has said that warm weather will “probably not” slow down the spread, at least not significantly.
And Michael Osterholm, the director of Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) echoed that sentiment and cautioned that the world is only in the beginning stages of the outbreak. “This is a coronavirus winter,” he cautioned, saying he expects the outbreak to go on for six months or more. Both Lipsitch’s and Osterholm’s positions came in March and stand in opposition to some previous analysis.
In early February, Hong Kong University pathology professor John Nicholls said that he suspected three factors would potentially kill the virus within six months, according to a leaked transcript of a private conference call in early February.
“Three things the virus does not like: 1. Sunlight, 2. Temperature and 3. Humidity,” Nicholls said in remarks that emerged on social media. “The virus can remain intact at 4 degrees Celsius (39 degrees Fahrenheit) or 10 degrees C (50 F) … But at 30 degrees C (86 degrees F) then you get inactivation.”
The CDC has cautioned that not enough is known about the virus to say for sure that weather will affect the spread, but a spokesperson said, “I’m happy to hope that it [the threat] goes down as the weather warms up.”