Virus heightens heat wave health risks, U.N. warns

Agence France-Presse
The World Meteorological Organization urges governments to make plans to keep people safe during heat waves without spreading the novel coronavirus

GENEVA, Switzerland – The UN’s weather agency warned Tuesday, May 26, that COVID-19 would amplify the risks of what was expected to be a record-breaking hot summer in the northern hemisphere.

The World Meteorological Organization urged governments to make plans to keep people safe during heat waves without spreading the novel coronavirus.

This year is expected to be “another record-breaking heat season in the northern hemisphere,” WMO spokeswoman Clare Nullis Kapp told a virtual briefing in Geneva.

“We’re currently experiencing one of the hottest years on record.

“COVID-19 amplifies the health risks of hot weather for many people, and it complicates the task of managing it.”

The United Nations agency teamed up Tuesday with non-governmental organizations to call for stronger preparations to keep people safe in hot weather while keeping a lid on the pandemic.

The information series, which covers topics such as ventilation, vulnerable populations and personal protection equipment, is being issued “to alert decision-makers to try to help them manage the duel challenge of heat and COVID,” said Nullis Kapp.

In some places, what would typically be good advice during a heat wave – such as heading for air-conditioned indoor public spaces – runs counter to public health guidance due to the coronavirus crisis.

India is currently experiencing a widespread heat wave, with temperatures reaching 47.5 degrees Celsius (117.5 Fahrenheit) in the city of Churu in the northwestern Rajasthan state.

“India is experiencing a heat wave, and this is at the same time as India is relaxing the lockdown measures,” said Nullis Kapp.

“Heat waves are becoming more frequent and more intense because of climate change. This is putting an increasing stress on human health and human health systems,” she added. – Rappler.com