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Explained: Will coronavirus become lethal in winter?

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New Delhi, Oct 13: Winter is coming and it is party time for seasonal flu. The ever increasing number of coronavirus cases in India has raised fear and concern that the coronavirus may see a surge once winter arrives.

Experts say, the spread of Covid-19 may pick up pace during peak monsoon and winter with a fall in the mercury.

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Amid several reports indicating that the number of Covid-19 cases will increase during winter, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan has confirmed that the possibility of the same in Indian context cannot be ruled out.

"SARS Cov 2 is a respiratory virus and the transmission of respiratory viruses is known to increase during the colder weather. Respiratory viruses thrive better in cold weather and low humidity conditions. There is another fact that needs to be kept in mind. During winter, there is a tendency of overcrowding in residential dwellings which may increase transmission... So in Indian context, it would not be wrong to assume that the winter season may see an increase in the number of cases," the minister said.

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The minister also cited the examples of the European countries, especially the United Kingdom, where the number of infections has gone up with the advent of winter.

"Hence, we are emphasising on the precautionary measures which are easy to follow. No need to fear and shudder. Wear the mask and maintain social distancing. Prevention is better than cure," Vardhan said.

As per the Academy of Medical Sciences, UK, the winter may be an extremely challenging. It has predicted a peak in hospital admissions and deaths in January/February 2021.

The National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has recently warned Delhi is likely to report around 15,000 Covid-19 cases daily in winter.

According to the report submitted to the Delhi government, there are three reasons to worry that may cause excessive pressure on healthcare services such as winter months that make respiratory illnesses severe and with festive gatherings there could be a sudden rise in cases.

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    Also, patients may come from outside Delhi in large numbers. Patients coming from distant areas are likely to be more serious, the report underlined.

    Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has apprised the ministers of the advisories issued for improving the testing and surveillance activities for seasonal influenza to simultaneously detect it with COVID-19 in view of the upcoming influenza season in the country.

    Reiterating Vardhan's concern on the fresh challenge to the containment efforts in view of the upcoming winters and festive season, health ministry official stressed on the gradual transition to mitigation in affected cities over the next few weeks and a sustained campaign to instil COVID appropriate behaviour among the people.

    India has the highest COVID-19 recovery rate of 86.78 percent globally with 62,27,295 recovered cases and the lowest fatality rate at 1.53 percent.

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