Tag: Prairies

Conditions deteriorating on the Prairies, with dangerous blizzard expected to shut down travel across the region Sunday


Winter will help COVID-19 spread more easily, experts say — here’s what they suggest you do about it

Canada is heading into its first winter of the COVID-19 pandemic, and some experts say the change in seasons will serve the coronavirus that causes the illness well.Cold weather affects viruses themselves in two major ways: through temperature and humidity, said Dr. Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist and assistant professor at the University of Toronto’s faculty of information.When a virus is exhaled, it begins to break down right away, Furness said. But the colder it gets, the slower that process is.”Instead of dying, perhaps, in minutes on a hot summer day, in freezing temperatures, it will last essentially — as far as we know — indefinitely,” Furness said. “It goes from being quick-dying to being immortal, based on temperature.”Winter weather can also help the virus stay aloft longer and travel farther, he said — because of the drier air that typically comes with lower temperatures, and how that affects the respiratory droplets we exhale.”When the droplet you exhale comes out in humid weather … it gets bigger. It attracts water and falls to the ground,” Furness said. “But in really dry, cold air, the opposite happens. The droplet evaporates, it gets lighter, and that happens very fast.”WATCH | Doctors answer questions about what places are higher risk for COVID-19:Then there’s the effect the weather has on people.Cold weather pushes people indoors, Furness said. It also means we don’t have our windows open, meaning our living spaces are won’t be as well ventilated as they other at other times of year.”If you have enough people in a poorly enough ventilated space, [like] holiday time in the winter … that’s sort of the perfect storm for virus transmission,” he said.”It pushes people exactly to where the virus moves very, very well — between people in close quarters.”The dry air also makes our bodies more vulnerable to pathogens, such as the new coronavirus, by drying out the protective mucus membrane that lines our respiratory tracts, said Dr. Dasantila Golemi-Kotra, an expert on microbial infections.”This mucus membrane actually traps these pathogens, and as the air moves out, these pathogens are expelled,” said Golemi-Kotra, who is also an associate professor in York University’s biology department.”At low humidity, this membrane becomes dry … so it’s much easier, now, for the pathogens to get access to the respiratory tract and infect us.”That’s the bad news. Here’s what these experts suggest you can do about it.Mind your mittens”First of all, avoid touching your face with mittens,” Golemi-Kotra said.Your gloves or mittens could come into contact with a lot of high-touch surfaces as you go about your day, so be careful with them. Gauge your daily activities and treat your mitts or gloves accordingly, she advised.If you don’t wear them long or contact many high-touch surfaces, it’s enough to let them sit for several hours in a safe area before re-wearing, she said. Studies show the virus’s stability in

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