WMO joins the global community in paying tribute to the work of all health professionals who are at the forefront of the COVID-19 response.
WMO and National Meteorological and Hydrological Services support the work of the World Health Organization (WHO) and national health authorities, which are the source of official information and advice on containing the Coronavirus pandemic at a time of global uncertainty.
WHO has issued a series of Frequently Asked Questions to dispel myths and fake news about the virus.
- Exposing yourself to the sun or to temperatures higher than 25°C degrees DOES NOT prevent the coronavirus disease
- From the evidence so far, the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in ALL AREAS, including areas with hot and humid weather.
- Cold weather and snow CANNOT kill the new coronavirus
WHO and WMO have a joint Office on Climate and Health office which seeks to accelerate access and application of weather and climate services for public health. Focus areas include climate change and extreme weather – in particular heatwaves – and air quality.
The global and local spreading of COVID-19 is strongly determined by trade, travel, personal behaviour and hygiene, policies of social distancing.
Several research teams are investigating the correlation between environmental variables such as temperature, humidity, and UV radiation, and the number of cases of COVID-19. However, it seems that climate and weather conditions such as humidity and temperature probably play a limited role in determining where and when COVID-19 occurs.
Environmental conditions, including extreme weather, are one of many factors that may exacerbate and introduce additional challenges for individuals, health workers, health facilities and communities to managing and control and management of COVID-19.
Existing disaster preparedness and management procedures for weather, climate and water-related hazards such as tropical cyclones, heatwaves and floods, will have to take into consideration public health recommendations for containment of COVID-19, as well as recognizing the increasing vulnerability of communities affected by the pandemic to extreme weather events due to economic-stresses, and reduced capacity of health systems and social support mechanisms.
The WMO community will therefore in the coming weeks and months do its upmost to support the global public health priorities whilst also trying to minimize the impact of COVID-19 on the essential 24/7 forecast and warning services from NMHSs.
Global partnership urges stronger preparation for hot weather during COVID-19
As the Northern hemisphere enters what is expected to be another record-breaking heat season, the Global Heat Health Information Network (GHHIN) of health and climate experts supported by WMO have called for stronger preparation to keep people safe in hot weather without increasing the risk of the spread of COVID-19.
Adjusted communications and outreach strategies will also be needed, as common actions to reduce heat-related illness and death - such as leaving dangerously hot homes for cooler air-conditioned public spaces, home visits to check on vulnerable people, and receiving urgent medical attention for signs of heat stroke - may be impossible or in contradiction to public health recommendations and protocols to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.
To help governments and health professionals prepare for these compounding threats to public health, an information series has been developed to help local decision-makers be more informed about how to manage the health risks of hot weather during COVID-19.
The information series features a technical brief, questions and answers on key issues, and a planning checklist for managing heat risk during the pandemic. It is being launched during a webinar on 26 May, hosted by the WHO Regional Office for Europe, on the prevention of heat health effects in the context of COVID-19.