Cold Weather and Covid-19: dual threat to Health
November 16, 2020
Cold weather is associated with the highest number of recorded deaths in England and Wales, with the annual recorded number of deaths averaging at around 35,000.
There are numerous complexly interlinked reasons to this:
- Inadequate housing and a lack of thermostats in homes
- Prevailing pathogens, particularly flu virus
- Snow or ice ability to cause physical harm
- Inadequate health facilities
Alongside the high mortality rate, a cold climate is also linked with a growing number of diseases.
Impact of Cold Weather on Health
Low temperature is often associated with the average death rate during winter, because the metabolism and normal physiological response of the body changes depending on the temperature of your environment. For Instance, blood pressure increases in low temperature environments and the immune system becomes suppressed; resulting in weak defense against pathogens. Also due to clogged and narrow air ways that drastically effects the efficiency of the lungs to clean air.
There are also several direct and indirect health impacts of a cold climate.
Direct effects include:
- Heart attack
- Respiratory disease
- Physical injuries
- Hypothermia or low body temperature
Indirect effects include:
- Poor mental health
- Illiteracy and unemployment
- Carbon monoxide poisoning, due to a faulty heating system and poor ventilation
- Poor hygiene, from a lack of hot water for showers and washing
- Malnutrition or lack of energy rich diet
How Covid-19 amplifies the cold-related risks
There are a number of different risks that carry a strong association and are commonly shared between cold weather and covid-19 such as:
- Increased risk to health-related problems in older individuals
- High susceptibility to Immunocompromised patients
- Increased risk of cardiovascular diseases
- High risk of Chronic respiratory diseases
- More likeliness of disease in diabetic patients and pregnant women
Here are some best possible measures we can implement in order to survive the hazards and impacts of both covid-19 and the cold weather:
Possible Actions to be taken
There are two potential adaptive measures that has been proposed and suggested by the Public Health England.
- Follow up of Cold Weather Plan (CWP) to tackle cold weather
- Special support to the vulnerable population
- Shielding from Cold and Isolation for Covid-19
To sum up, winter is nigh and will be going strong for the next couple of months, while the already prevailing threat of covid-19 exacerbate the risks of public health hazards. The collective effect of both cold weather and covid-19 are representing a dual threat because of their common clinical and environmental aspects on human health. So, a more vigilant approach such as CWP and national restrictions will possibly be helpful to stand against cold weather and covid-19.