Covid-19 Pandemic Piles on to the Challenge of Managing Heatwave Health Risks: UN

ON 05/27/2020 AT 05:19 AM

The UN's weather agency warned on May 26 that Covid-19 would amplify the risks of what was expected to be a record-breaking hot summer in the Northern Hemisphere.

Despite ups and downs from year to year, global average surface temperature is rising. By the beginning of the 21st century, Earth’s temperature was roughly 0.5 degrees Celsius above the long-term (1951–1980) average. (NASA figure adapted from Goddard Institute for Space Studies Surface Temperature Analysis.) Photo: NASA Observatory

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

The UN's weather agency warned on May 26 that Covid-19 would amplify the risks of what was expected to be a record-breaking hot summer in the Northern Hemisphere.

“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 on Tuesday with non-governmental organisations 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 Ms Nullis Kapp.

In some places, what would typically be good advice during a heatwave - 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 heatwave, with temperatures reaching 47.5 deg C in the city of Churu in the north-western Rajasthan state.

"India is experiencing a heatwave, and this is at the same time as India is relaxing the lockdown measures," said Ms Nullis Kapp.

"Heatwaves 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.