World Health Organization Representative Rabindra Abeyasinghe (right) with Health Secretary Francisco Duque 3rd in a press conference in Malacañang on March 9, 2020. Courtesy of J. Gerard Seguia.

The World Health Organization (WHO) Philippine representative clarified on Monday that there is no present evidence that COVID-19 cases decrease due to summer heat.

“We are seeing continuing transmission in very tropical countries like Singapore and Malaysia. And so the evidence we have at this point in time is not supportive”, Rabindra Abeyasinghe said during a press briefing.

What is for sure, however, according to Abeyasinghe, is that COVID-19 has a lower chance of surviving in warm countries with high humidity than otherwise.

“So this could work in favor of lower levels of transmission but there are other factors such as overcrowding which could work negatively,” he divulged, as the real outcome varies on every country’s situation.

With the rising concerns after the Department of Health (DoH) triggered Code Red due to the report of the first locally-transmitted case of COVID-19, Abeyasinghe believes “that countries like [the] Philippines, and in fact even countries like Korea and Italy where there are considerably higher numbers of cases, can contain it by following a response, as has been demonstrated very successfully by the Chinese government.”

He added that since the virus “is largely a mild disease, we want to reiterate…the importance for people who are having respiratory signs and symptoms to practice social distancing. Do not go to work, do not go to school, do not go to crowded places if you’re having signs of respiratory infection.”

He also advised to those who have had contact with confirmed cases and developed symptoms, are required to isolate themselves and to inform local health authorities “so that appropriate assessment and control measures can be implemented.”


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