Hotter the better for virus break

Local | Michael Shum 24 Mar 2020

There's hope the hot weather this summer will help contain the Covid-19 outbreak as our weathermen say this year will be hotter than normal.

The Hong Kong Observatory said yesterday that this year's annual mean temperature has a high chance of being one of 10 warmest years in Hong Kong history, reaching 23.6 degrees Celsius or above.

Benjamin Cowling, head of epidemiology at the University of Hong Kong, said hotter weather could make the coronavirus less contagious, but will not wipe it out completely.

"It looks like the coronavirus might be spreading a bit more slowly in southeast Asia than in Europe," Cowling said, citing temperature differences between the two continents.

"I think warmer temperatures might help containment efforts, but there is no chance the virus will disappear, as SARS was controlled by around June 2003 because of human effort, not because of changes in the weather," Cowling added.

His remarks came as observatory director Cheng Cho-ming said yesterday "the annual mean temperature in 2020 is expected to be on the warmer side, with a high chance of reaching the top 10 [in terms of warmest years on record]."

In addition, the tropical cyclone season may start in or after June, according to Cheng, with four to seven typhoons expected to approach within 500 kilometers of Hong Kong.

"The number of tropical cyclones coming close to Hong Kong is near normal but it is hard for us to predict if there will be strong typhoons like Typhoon Mangkhut in the year to come," Cheng said.

The annual rainfall is expected to be normal to below normal, but Hong Kong may still be affected by heavy rains, he said.

Meanwhile, Cheng also recapped the weather in 2019, saying that the annual mean temperature reached 24.5 degrees last year, making it the warmest year since records began.

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