Rain and cloud seeding in the UAE: It might actually help prevent the spread of coronavirus. Here's how...

Rain and cloud seeding in the UAE: It might actually help prevent the spread of coronavirus. Here's how...

Will Saturday's rain and hail help prevent the spread of coronavirus? Was there cloud seeding and will the extra rainfall play a role in the country's disinfection drive to prevent coronavirus. 

Dr. Ahmed Habib, a National Centre of Meteorology official told Gulf News: "The weather in the country is unstable. It is happening due to convective clouds that started in the west of the UAE and are moving into the northern and eastern parts of the country. These clouds are caused rain and hail storm in scattered areas in different parts of the country."

Dr. Habib explained that as standard protocol, when the NCM team saw clouds good enough for seeding, cloud sedding flights were dispatched and have been working since Wednesday, March 18. Dr. Habib added: "This time the case started on Wednesday and went on till Saturday. Our teams noticed that these clouds are good for seeding. We expect more scattered rain [today]."

As per previous Gulf News reports, the NCM keeps teams on standby to dispatch cloud seeding flights in case of cloud activity over the country, to enhance rain in the region. The NCM’s cloud seeding section uses a sophisticated weather surveillance radar (WSR), which is responsible in monitoring the atmospheric pressure around the clock.

Will the rain help prevent the spread of coronavirus? Doctors explain...

Saturday night’s storm in the UAE might actually help prevent the spread of coronavirus, according to local doctors, but not in the ways you might think.

Medics have little evidence to draw upon with this new virus, especially when it comes to the effect of rain on the spread of COVID-19, however in indirect ways it may have had an impact, said Dr Vijay Devdas Nair, a specialist pulmonologist at Aster Clinic in Discovery Garden.

“We cannot know definitely if plain rain water can have any impact,” said Nair.

However, he said, when married with street sanitisation works that began across 95 streets in Dubai for 10-days starting from Friday, March 20, it could help the efforts of municipality workers to deep clean the city.

“The sanitsation work being carried out in the community is using high grade disinfectants such as sodium hydrochloride or those containing at least 70 per cent alcohol. These disinfectants in combination with water can ‘wash away’ the bacteria, not just plain water,” added Nair.

Dr Mohammad Mooty, Department Chair, Infectious Diseases, Medical Subspeciality Institute, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, agreed, “Some coronaviruses can survive in water for up to two days, meaning that heavy rain may have lifted the virus off some surfaces only to deposit it onto others. Water alone is not effective at denaturing the virus.

“The only way to effectively wash a surface is to use soap or domestic cleaners in addition to water. Soap molecules can break down a virus’ shell, destroying the virus.

“Recent rain in the UAE has not made transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 less likely,” he added. “The best way for people to protect themselves from the virus is to wash hands with soap and water regularly, engage in social distancing and clean frequently touched objects and surfaces with household cleaning products.”

In an indirect way however, Dr Antony Thomas, specialist pathologist and director of the Prime Healthcare group, said, rain may have aided social distancing as everyone ran for cover and stayed indoors.

“First of all with rain, people stay away from each other and are confined to their homes,” said Thomas. “Streets naturally get deserted so rain has a role to play in social distancing and that helps.

“Previous evidence collected from the behaviour of other microbes (viruses and bacteria) indicate that humidity and heat helps taper off the impact of the contagions that usually cause disease through contact. Rain water will play some role in ‘washing off’ the virus from plain surfaces in the community but might not completely sanitise it,” warned Thomas.

“The virus might not proliferate as many bacteria do in presence of water. But still there is little evidence for us to think that the outbreak will have any containment with rain. On the contrary, rain water must not be allowed to collect or many other microbes will breed there causing many other outbreaks. So far the only known impact in containing the transmission is complete social cut off.”

Dr Kavuri Sree R. Murthy, Specialist Internal Medicine at RAK Hospital, agreed, “Rain can work both ways. Heavy showers will dislodge the virus that is ‘hanging in the air’ and wash it away to the sea. This coronavirus family, going by experience of previous strains, has been doing well in colder climes. Once the temperatures begin rising again, the chances of mitigation of the virus are stronger.”