ISLAMABAD - As the government officially confirmed 21 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the country, health experts on Thursday said the rise in mercury will likely to reduce the risk of virus spread.

“The rise in temperature does affect reducing the risk of COVID-19 risk as it also behaves like influenza,” Dr. Rana Muhammad Safdar, an expert on infectious diseases, said this while talking to The Nation here.

He said that the virus will not survive in hot temperature especially the mercury rises to 30 degrees. “It will also reduce its transmission,” he said.

Microbiologist from Lanzhou University China, Dr. Kamran Malik, viewed that the assumption that coronavirus COVID-19  will disappear itself with hot weather is only based on the pattern of other viruses like influenza and SARS-CoV virus as they are considered less efficient during the hot weather.

“But a very recent research publication showed that temperature alone couldn’t kill the virus while public awareness and adopting the precautionary measures can only reduce the virus spread,” he said.

He said the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) are of the view that effect of warm weather on corona virus is still unclear because of the novelty of this virus.

Dr. Kamran said that the COVID-19 can spread through air droplet when an infected person coughs or sneezes, the evolving droplets stay on the near surface and survive till 8-10 hours, but in the hot weather, only this type of viral spread can be reduced, as the hot surfaces can’t aid the viral stay.

“But person-to-person viral spread may remain on boom,” he added.

Commenting about the research being done on the virus, Dr. Kamran said that scientists hypothesize that low humidity, which often occurs in winter, might impair the function of the mucus in our nose, which our body uses to trap and expel foreign bodies like viruses or bacteria.

He said that cold and dry air can make that normally gooey mucus drier and less efficient at trapping a virus.

Ian Lipkin, Director of the Columbia University’s Center for Infection and Immunity, has been studying the novel coronavirus and, according to him, sunlight, which is less abundant in winter, can also help break down viruses that have been transmitted to surfaces.

Referring to the research of David Heymann from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, he said it is not enough known about this new virus to predict how it will change with different weather conditions.

Meanwhile, Gilgit-Baltistan reported another case of coronavirus taking the total number of cases to 21 in Pakistan.

According to spokesperson of the Gilgit-Baltistan government Faizullah Firaq, the patient — a 31-year-old resident of Shigar district — had a travel history of Iran.

He said that the patient was under treatment at the Skardu hospital.

Meanwhile, the Emergency Core Group (ECG) on COVID-19 attended by high federal and provincial authorities discussed the preventive measures taken in the regions.

Special Assistant to PM (SAPM) on National Health Services (NHS) Dr. Zafar Mirza confirmed 20 cases on COVID-19 in the country.

He said that WHO has declared the COVID-19 as pandemic and while federal and provincial authorities are coping with the challenge with coordination.

He said that the government is enforcing the screening of all passengers and putting suspects in quarantine as well.

The SAPM on health said that the diagnostic facility in Gilgit Baltistan (GB) has been provided with the coordination of National Institute of Health (NIH).

Earlier, the WHO situation report revealed that nine recent cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) were imported in Pakistan from Syria and United Kingdom (UK).

The situation report of March 10, 2020 issued by WHO on Pakistan said that 11 new cases reported till March 10 had a travel history of Syria, United Kingdom (UK) and Iran.

According to the details, six cases were reported from Syria, 3 from UK and 2 were from Iran.

Earlier, the Ministry of NHS had reported all the confirmed cases from neighbouring country Iran.

The WHO situation report also said that 59 contacts of the newly confirmed cases are being traced and will be tested for COVID-19 while 31 identified contacts have been home quarantined.