The World Health Organization (WHO) says the virus can be transmitted in any kind of weather and that there is no reason to believe that cold weather can kill it.
The U.N. health agency says the virus is mainly spread between people. Rain and snow might dilute any traces of the virus on benches or other outside objects, but transmission from surfaces is not believed to be a major contributor to the pandemic.
Scientists say the real concern about cold weather is that lower temperatures are more likely to keep people indoors – potentially in more crowded spaces where the virus can spread more easily.
Studies have shown that a significant percentage of spread happens within households when people are sharing common areas like kitchens and bathrooms.
WHO and others have also warned that in indoor spaces with poor ventilation, transmission happens more easily because the virus can be spread in the air and infectious particles might remain suspended in the air for several hours.
Superspreader events have been traced to nightclubs, gyms and even choir practices. The coronavirus does not transmit as often outdoors because fresh air disperses the virus particles and people are more easily able to keep their distance from others. But experts caution that if people spend extended periods of time outdoors close to others without wearing masks, coronavirus spread is still possible.
Dry, indoor conditions during the winter months have also been found to worsen contagion risk. A Japanese supercomputer showed in October that humidity can have a large effect on the dispersion of virus particles.
The finding suggests that the use of humidifiers may help limit infections during times when window ventilation is not possible, said the study by research giant Riken and Kobe University.
Air humidity of lower than 30% resulted in more than double the amount of aerosolized particles compared to levels of 60% or higher, the simulations showed.
Health officials say the best way to stop transmission of the virus is to wear a mask in public, stay at least 2 meters (6 feet) away from people not in your household and frequently wash your hands.