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Concerned public health experts have warned about the possibility of a new wave of infections from COVID-19 as the winter season approaches in the upcoming months.
The precaution was based on other respiratory viruses’ past behavior, which the novel coronavirus belongs to. When temperatures drop this fall and air become dry, the risk of getting infected likely increases.
But there’s a way for Americans, however, to avoid the risk of contracting the virus. It depends on whether people will practice advice to do hand-washing, mask-wearing, and social distancing.
“We will be faced with basically a double-barrel respiratory virus season, both influenza and COVID,” said Dr. William Schaffner, medical director for the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and a professor of medicine at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Tennessee.
The flu season usually approaches in December, and its peak could last until February in the northern hemisphere. In 2019, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recorded an estimated 61,000 deaths and 810,000 hospitalizations.
Since it has the same nature as the flu transmission, COVID-19’s seasonality is not determined yet. However, the way it spread points to a similar indication– coughs, sputters, and sneezes in tight and crowded areas.
History has also proven that compliance with social distancing can prevent the transmission of influenza and COVID-19, with the 1918 flu pandemic being the prime example.
Dr. Richard Kennedy, Mayo Clinic’s vaccine research lab’s co-director, said that when the spike of coronavirus cases in different communities began to occur, widespread lockdown and quarantine shaved “four to six weeks” off the flu season this year.
He said that such a case was “probably as a direct result of the social distancing and the mask-wearing and the shutdown.”
Will we see that same thing up here? The answer is, if we wear our masks and social distancing, yes. If we remain shut down, yes. But I don’t know if Americans are going to do any or all of the above… We’re seeing groups wanting to open the economy up regardless of the risks. Then we’re seeing people saying, ‘No, we want to shut down and we don’t care if the economy crashes.’Dr. Richard Kennedy
The World Health Organization fully supports governments’ initiative to reopen communities. But they insisted that countries must be able to suppress the transmission of the virus to save lives.
“Opening up without having control is a recipe for disaster.”WHO
As of the moment, there are more than 25.7 million people who have been infected by the novel coronavirus worldwide, which took the lives of 857,413 people, according to John Hopkins University’s data.