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This drop in temperature favors spread of coronavirus: Dr. Petrovic on how to protect ourselves

* It can be said that unusually low temperatures do not protect against the virus and do not reduce its activity * We register cases where the disease has not been transmitted to contacts * The number of (contagion) reservoirs we've registered is not high

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Low air temperatures, which are around and below zero degrees centigrade in Serbia today, should, according to forecasts, remain until Thursday - which is not good at all when it comes to the current coronavirus epidemic, that has claimed three lives in our country, and which has been confirmed in 249 people. That's because cold weather favors the spread of respiratory infections indoors, while the usually low outdoor temperatures do not reduce the activity of the virus, director of the Institute of Public Health of Vojvodina, an epidemiologist, tells Telegraf.rs.

"The drop in temperature and cold weather are conducive to the spread of all respiratory infections in conditions of dense occupancy of people in small, closed, unventilated area. Therefore, indoor space should be aired as much as possible, thus diluting the concentration of viruses and reducing the possibility of infection. In this situation, the size of the space is important, so people who have some respiratory infection should be separated from other family members in a separate room, if possible," says Professor Dr. Petrovic.

According to him, people who have been placed in isolation are mildly ill. However, it is very important that those who are at a higher risk are not close to them - the elderly and those suffering from chronic diseases, who may develop a more severe clinical picture.

Petrovic also reveals that there have been cases where the disease has not been transmitted to contacts of those infected.

"If someone is mildly ill, the disease, according to what we are registering, is even milder in their contacts, if they are healthy adults, adolescents or children. We also register cases where the disease has not been transmitted to contacts. The measures introduced prevent the mass occurrence of the disease in the population, because the number of reservoirs we have registered is not high. If a case is missed, it's more likely it was so mild the person did not seek medical help rather than that they refused it for whatever reason. It's important that the measures are respected and that discipline is maximized. People make decisions, not the virus," Dr. Petrovic recalled.

Asked which low temperatures don't suit COVID-19, he says that very low temperatures are needed to inactivate the virus, that is, not the usually low ones.

"The virus concentration is minimally reduced at temperatures below -70 or -80 degrees Celsius, and these are the temperatures at which samples are stored for further or repeated testing. Even lower temperatures are required to inactivate the virus. These are not the low temperatures that we record outdoors on a daily basis. We can say that the usual low ambiental temperatures do not protect against the virus and do not reduce its activity."

In Serbia, coronavirus has been confirmed in 249 people, and the disease has claimed three lives - two women and one man. Currently, 16 people are on ventilators.

Video: Follow the guidelines of the Ministry of Health and reduce the risk of infection with coronavirus

(LJ.R.- lj.racic@telegraf.rs)

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