SYDNEY - The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Australia continues to rise. Doctors say the infections do not at this stage appear to be influenced by warmer weather. Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump predicted the pandemic would end in April with warmer temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere. Australia has about 300 confirmed COVID-19 cases. Five people have died.
Scientists around the world are racing to unlock the secrets of the COVID-19 virus in search of a vaccine. The disease was first reported in China late last year. Some experts have been hoping the new coronavirus might behave like influenza that thrives in cold, dry air, and start to fade as the summer months arrive in temperate parts of the Northern Hemisphere.
Understanding any seasonality of COVID-19 could eventually help to determine the best time to administer any vaccine.
However, there are no clear signs that warmer conditions will subdue or stop the virus.
Australia is in the first month of autumn, but temperatures are still in the 20s and 30s Celsius, and infections continue to increase.
Brad McKay, a Sydney doctor and author, says the indications here are that heat has not slowed the spread of COVID-19.
“We are seeing that things have been pretty terrible in the Northern Hemisphere, particularly around Italy," said McKay. "We hope that as the summer months come along that things will improve, but we really do not know and we are still seeing the spread very quickly throughout Australia and the weather has still been relatively warm and hot. So I cannot say that the sun will save people. I think that the virus can still spread from people-to-people even during the summer months.”
Australia and New Zealand have now ordered all international arrivals into mandatory quarantine in a bid to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.
It’s unclear how Australia’s coronavirus quarantine orders will be enforced. The government has said that everyone arriving from overseas will have to shut themselves away for two weeks. Those who don’t will be committing an offence, according to the Prime Minister.
Foreign cruise liners will also be prevented from docking in Australia for 30 days. Gatherings of 500 people or more are also banned starting Monday.
Cases of the COVID-19 virus have been confirmed in every Australian state.