A warmer-than-usual spring in the UK could help health services struggling to deal with the spread of coronavirus.
Forecasters are predicting higher temperatures this spring, which would help slow the spread of the virus and also free up beds taken by those suffering from flu and other bugs associated with winter.
The Met Office’s three-month forecast said: “For March-April-May as a whole, above-average temperatures are more likely than below-average temperatures.”
It added: “Overall, the probability that the UK-average temperature for March-April-May will fall into the coldest of our five categories is less than 5% and the probability that it will fall into the warmest of our five categories is around 55% (the 1981-2010 probability for each of these categories is 20%).”
England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty has previously said that dealing with an outbreak would be helped by “putting it back in time” into summer.
He said: “Putting it back in time into the summer period, away from winter pressures on the NHS, buying us a bit more time to understand the virus better, possibly having some seasonal advantage, is a big advantage.”
Experts have also noted that winter weather can help the spread of respiratory diseases, with factors like respiratory infections like cold weather, humidity, and people’s activities during winter affecting epidemics.
Simon Clarke, an expert in cellular microbiology at Britain's University of Reading, told Reuters: “The reason why cold weather is presumed to cause spreading of coughs, colds and flu is that cold air causes irritation in the nasal passages and airways, which makes us more susceptible to viral infection.”
He told the news agency that the arrival of warmer weather could help alleviate the spread of coronavirus, adding: “It's entirely possible that we might get a spring-time lull," said Clarke. "It's unlikely to make things worse, but we don't know for sure - it's an educated guess.”