There is growing evidence that climatic factors could influence the evolution of the current COVID-19 pandemic. Here, we build on this evidence base, focusing on the southern hemisphere summer and autumn period. The relationship between climatic factors and COVID-19 cases in New South Wales, Australia was investigated during both the exponential and declining phases of the epidemic in 2020, and in different regions. Increased relative humidity was associated with decreased cases in both epidemic phases, and a consistent negative relationship was found between relative humidity and cases. Overall, a decrease in relative humidity of 1% was associated with an increase in cases of 7-8%. Overall, we found no relationship with between cases and temperature, rainfall or wind speed. Information generated in this study confirms humidity as a driver of SARS-CoV-2 transmission.
Since 2007, African swine fever virus (ASFV) has spread to countries in Europe, Asia and Oceania, and has caused devastating impacts on pigs and the pork industry. Transmission can be direct or indirect, and epidemiologic scenarios have been described in which spread occurs between free-living and domestic pigs. The purpose of this scoping review was to identify primary research in which authors made statements to support ASFV transmission between free-living and domestic pigs and assess the circumstances in which transmission events occurred. A search was conducted in five bibliographic databases and the grey literature. Two reviewers (from a team of ten) independently screened each record and charted data (demographics of the pig populations, their husbandry [domestic pigs] and habitat [free-living pigs], the spatial and temporal distribution of ASF, the occurrence or burden of ASF in the populations, and whether ticks were present in the geographic range of the pig populations). Data synthesis included statistics and a narrative summary. From 1,349 records screened, data were charted from 46 individual studies published from 1985 to 2020. Outbreak investigations revealed that whilst poor biosecurity of domestic pig operations was often reported, direct contact resulting in transmission between free-living and domestic pigs was rarely reported. Studies in which quantitative associations were made generally found that spread within populations was more important than spread between populations, although this was not always the case, particularly when domestic pigs were free-ranging. We conclude that there is limited evidence that transmission of ASFV between free-living and domestic pigs is an important feature of ASF epidemiology, especially in the current ASF epidemic in Europe and the Russian Federation. If ASFV elimination cannot be achieved in free-living pigs, compartmentalisation of free-living and domestic pig populations via biosecurity strategies could be used to support trade of domestic pigs.
Previous research has identified a relationship between climate and occurrence of SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV cases, information that can be used to reduce the risk of infection. Using COVID-19 notification and postcode data from New South Wales, Australia during the exponential phase of the epidemic in 2020, we used time-series analysis to investigate the relationship between 749 cases of locally-acquired COVID-19 and daily rainfall, 9am and 3pm temperature, and 9am and 3pm relative humidity. Lower 9am relative humidity (but not rainfall or temperature) was associated with increased case occurrence; a reduction in relative humidity of 1% was predicted to be associated with an increase of COVID-19 cases by 6.11%. During periods of low relative humidity, the public health system should anticipate an increased number of COVID-19 cases.