On Friday morning, President Trump tweeted about his phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Trump praised Xi as “strong, sharp and powerfully focused” on containing the virus, and added that he thinks Xi will be successful, “especially as the weather starts to warm & the virus hopefully becomes weaker, and then gone.”
But are changing seasons and warmer weather the break the world is waiting for?
Infectious disease experts tell CNN that it’s too early to say, and nobody knows enough about the novel coronavirus to make assessments about its behavior.
“It would be reckless to assume that things will quiet down in spring and summer,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas.
“We don’t really understand the basis of seasonality, and of course we know we absolutely nothing about this particular virus,” Hotez said.
“His hope is our hope,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, referring to Trump’s tweets. “But we don’t have knowledge that it will do that.”
“It’s a respiratory virus, and we know respiratory viruses are very seasonal, but not exclusively. One would hope that the gradual spring will help this virus recede. We can’t be sure of that,” added Schaffner, a longtime adviser to the CDC.
‘There’s a lot of unknowns’
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the risk to the general American public is low. But the Trump administration has taken drastic action to slow the spread of the virus in the United States, including quarantines and travel restrictions — and it’s because of the unknowns.