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COVID-19 and heatwaves: a double challenge

The Medical Service outlines the preventive measures to be taken in with the event of a heatwave during the COVID-19 pandemic


Summer has arrived and may bring with it another heatwave at a time when, unfortunately, COVID-19 is still with us.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recently published a warning about the health risks posed by the double challenge of a heatwave and the pandemic, especially for vulnerable people. Some of the measures usually recommended during a heatwave, such as the use of air conditioning, contradict those in place to combat the novel coronavirus.

Here are a few tips to help you stay safe during this time, without increasing the risk of spreading the virus:

  • Stay hydrated: drink water regularly throughout the day (at least 1.5 litres in total). At work, use your own bottle or flask. In addition, plan meals based primarily on fruit and vegetables, either raw or cooked. Opt for vegetables with a high water content, such as cucumbers, lettuce, radishes, tomatoes, courgettes and peppers, and fruits that aren’t too high in sugar, such as watermelon, melon, peaches and strawberries.
  • Dress appropriately: choose loose, lightweight clothes (preferably in light colours) to allow sweat to evaporate. If you work outdoors, remember to protect your skin and your head from the sun (sunglasses, sun hat, sun cream).
  • Know your limits: adapt your work pattern to your heat tolerance; avoid intense physical activity during the hottest hours of the day. Work in the shade as much as possible.
  • Ventilate: to keep fresh air circulating, it is essential to air or ventilate offices and work spaces. If possible, leave windows open overnight and early in the morning. During the day, open windows for at least ten minutes every two hours. In addition open inside doors if possible to help air circulate. If you have a pedestal fan, use it with the windows and doors open to increase the air circulation.
  • Protect yourself: the protective measures put in place to combat COVID-19 still apply!

In the event of a medical emergency, call 74444!

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(Image: CERN)

If you need support on a specific issue, the following services are available to you:

  • The COVID-19 helpline: +41 22 766 77 77
  • The Medical Service: +41 22 767 31 86 / medical.service@cern.ch.