Besides the upcoming festivals, health officials in India also have to contend with COVID outbreaks looking set to worsen this winter. Apprehensions over such a scenario stems from general observations made about infections caused by many respiratory viruses which swell in winter and drop in summer. Virus illnesses, especially, respiratory, are supposed to thrive in colder temperatures worldwide. But while in many parts of the world there is a winter seasonality for Influenza, in India and regions of similar climate which have a diverse range of seasons for the flu virus, there is a monsoon peak and a smaller winter surge. With experts in the field postulating that coronavirus infections would be more prevalent during winter in the temperate geographies of the world, it has however not shown any temperature relationship with seasons in tropical geographies till date. But then these are all assumptions, theories that are not backed by enough evidence. However, for a virus that has flummoxed scientists and has to date evaded any known cure for its virulent effects, it is only an effort of sorts by the medical fraternity which has helped check the rampaging virus to some extent. The strict health and safety protocols issued by the government too have played a substantial role in controlling the spike in infections. But with the experts pointing out that there has been no definite trend for COVID-19 yet, researchers are as much in the dark about the virus today as they were when the deadly microbe made its presence felt sometime last year. Linking of the pathogen to a family of viruses responsible for the previous outbreaks of the respiratory diseases Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), as well as some cases of common cold, by the scientists gave health professionals the inventiveness to put to use all their experience at handling similar cases in the past while treating COVID-19 patients, and with a fair amount of success at that. But it must be said that as scientists are engaged in a race against time to find a curative solution to the COVID-muddle, the very conspicuous adamancy shown by people across the country towards disease control measures such as social distancing and wearing masks is quite alarming.
PACHU MENON, MARGAO