CORONAVIRUS cases in the UK fell dramatically after the lockdown measures were introduced in late March and following the sunniest April on record – with experts saying sun and fresh air will help to defeat the virus.
Changes in the Covid-19 regulations from Wednesday mean people in England can now hit parks, beaches and beauty spots – as scientific evidence shows there is little risk of spreading Covid-19 outdoors.
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Earlier this week, giving evidence at the science and technology select committee, Prof Alan Penn, the chief scientific adviser at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said being outdoors will help prevent people from contracting the virus.
He said: "The science suggests that being outside in sunlight, with good ventilation, are both highly protective against transmission of the virus."
Sunlight is known to be germicidal and there is growing evidence it can kill viruses as well.
Research has indicated viruses can live far longer on surfaces when the weather is cold.
Britain experienced the sunniest April on record, which along with the strict lockdown measures, has coincided with a sharp fall in new Covid-19 cases.
Public Health England said there are now just 24 cases a day in London. However the infection rate in the UK has gone up again – which is thought to be driven by the virus spreading in care homes and hospitals.
With hot weather forecast over the May Bank Holiday, it should discourage crowds from gathering in crowded spaces indoors, which limits the virus' ability to spread.
SUN HELPS BEAT VIRUS
Professor Keith Neal, emeritus professor in the epidemiology of infectious diseases at the University of Nottingham, told the Telegraph: "Sunlight includes ultraviolet radiation. This damages DNA and RNA.
"I have not seen any work on how quickly this affects Covid-19 but viruses left on surfaces outside will dry out and be damaged by UV light in sunlight."
He added: "I intend to avail myself of the new recommendations and go fishing and play golf.
"The risk is minuscule and I think I am more likely to be killed by lightning."
Professor Paul Hunter, a leading expert in diseases from University of East Anglia, said: "The big thing about being outdoors is actually the droplets will be blown away quite quickly usually if there is a breeze.
"When you are talking to people outdoors, you should try to stand where the wind is moving across you and not towards someone else.
"The evidence [for COVID-19] is that aerosols are not that important anyway. But they tend to get inactivated quite quickly in sunlight so they wouldn't stay around for very long."
A recent Oxford University study found cold conditions appeared to increase the spread of Covid-19.
It found that while the global death rate was 0.2 per cent, in the northern hemisphere it was 0.3 per cent.
The research even showed there was a difference in Italy between the warmer south and cooler north, which has been worse affected.
Meanwhile there is growing evidence vitamin D is protective against the deadly bug, according to researchers from Anglia Ruskin University.
Scientists discovered Spain and Italy – both of which have been hit hard by the pandemic – have lower than average vitamin D levels.
This is partly because people living there, particularly the elderly, avoid strong sun, while their darker skin pigmentation also limits the body's ability to produce natural vitamin D.
By contrast, the highest average levels of vitamin D are found in northern Europe, due to the consumption of cod liver oil and vitamin D supplements, and possibly less sun avoidance.
Scandinavian nations are among the countries with the lowest number of Covid-19 cases and mortality rates per head of population in Europe.
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