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Summer Could Be Australia's Best Defence Against Coronavirus

Australia's hot, humid summer temperatures may stave off coronavirus, as experts say winter is the best time for the infection to spread.

Cold winter months provide the ideal climate for coronavirus to spread, Dr Rob Grenfell, director of CSIRO's Health and Biosecurity unit told ABC's RN Breakfast.

"Thinking about the virus, we're in summer. Maybe the window we have is that the virus can't spread that well in the warm, dry conditions that we have at the moment," Dr Grenfell said on Friday.

Health officials may also struggle to prevent human-to-human transmission in low humidity, as it's considered to be a breeding ground for viruses.

Cooler temperatures also lower human defences to viruses, making people more susceptible to becoming sick.

Summer could be Australia's best defence against coronavirus, experts say. Image: Getty

"Warm weather is not favourable conditions for the coronavirus. Other types of coronavirus infection is usually what gives a cold," Dr Jonas Nilsen (MD) co-founder of U.K. vaccination service Practio told Express.co.uk.

“Colds are more frequent in the wintertime as cold temperatures cool down the membrane on the nose which makes it easier for the virus to enter the body.”

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Viruses generally spread more in winter. Image: Getty

The World Health Organisation, along with other experts, is now stressing there's a window of opportunity to prevent coronavirus from becoming a pandemic.

"In Australia, the number of cases reported is still very low. To date there's been no confirmation of transmission from human to human of the virus," Grenfell said.

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Five Australians are reportedly among another 41 people who have tested positive for coronavirus onboard a cruise liner that is quarantined off Japan. 

The death toll from a coronavirus outbreak in mainland China, where it's currently winter, has reached 636 as of the end of Thursday, up by 73 from the previous day, the country's National Health Commission has said.

Out of the total rise in the toll, central Hubei province - the epicentre of the outbreak - reported 69 deaths, including 64 in the provincial capital Wuhan.

In Wuhan, the average winter January sees a high of 8C and a low of zero. The area typically doesn't see warmer temperatures (+20C) until April-May.

Comparatively, the average Sydney winter in June sees a high of 17C and a low of 9C. Melbourne typically sees an average high of 15C in June and a low of 8C.

"China's in the middle of winter so many people are developing colds and influenza and other conditions. That muddies the water about who has coronavirus and who doesn't in a mild form."

With AAP