Covid-19: why heat waves and high temperatures could complicate the fight against the virus

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Coronavirus, heat wave and intense heat do not mix, as detailed by Public Health France in a summary published on July 23.

Ventilate or, conversely, not ventilate, frequent closed places with air conditioning or, on the contrary, run away from them. Just think about what is advised or not in the heat wave period and Covid-19 epidemic period to see that some advice is contradictory and the two contexts do not go so well together.

In a summary published on July 23, the French public health agency easily recognizes that coronavirus and high temperatures, including heat waves, do not mix well, and that therefore it will be essential in the summer to adapt the advice and measures of prevention of both phenomena. "During the period of circulation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and in the event of the occurrence of heat waves, certain recommendations and devices dedicated to heat waves and COVID-19 must be adapted to guarantee the population optimal health protection "indicates the agency.

Unfortunately, summer temperature and humidity increases will not overcome the epidemic and will not control transmission of the virus. Therefore, barrier measures should be maintained.

"In epidemiological terms, there are common points between heat waves and COVID-19 in the use of emergency care, confusing clinical signs and certain individual, social and environmental risk factors," explains Santé Publique France. In fact, vulnerable people during a heat wave are particularly the elderly, who are at the highest risk of dying from Covid-19 or being hospitalized in an intensive care unit. People with chronic diseases or who are obese are also vulnerable to both Covid-19 and heat waves.

Ventilator, frequenting "cool" places: measures adapted to the epidemic situation

Since the use of a ventilator poses an increased risk of dispersion of the coronavirus in the air, it is not recommended. If it is safe to use a fan in a single room at home, if there are several people, you should avoid directing the air flow towards them.

Furthermore, an important contradictory mandate is to frequent "cool" places, which are also closed places with air conditioning: cinemas, shopping malls, museums, swimming pools, etc.

"Part of the population lives on heat islands or in houses with little thermal insulation: home care constitutes a greater risk of health effects from exposure to heat," recalls Santé Publique France. "Therefore, it becomes essential for these people to be able to spend a few hours in renovated places," he adds. In this case, the Agency suggests a modification of the opening hours for the entire population or "access to certain public places reserved for people at higher risk", but considers that other solutions, for example, "locally, could be access temporary refrigerated housing to limit the impact of heat. " This solution may also be useful when isolation of a person with Covid-19 within the home is not possible, and hospitalization is not recommended, to limit spread within the family.

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