Warm spring weather may help to stem the tide of coronavirus infections because similar viruses struggle to survive in hotter temperatures.
Although scientists are still battling to understand the new virus, if it conforms to the patterns of other diseases such as seasonal flu then a mild March and April could stop the disease in its tracks.
In the northern hemisphere, flu season typically begins in October and peaks between December and February, although some cases can last until May.
Flu survives better in cold weather because it has a fatty protective coating which degrades when it is warm.
One study by Harvard University showed at 6C in dry weather, flu on a surface survived for more than 23 hours, but at 32C it was dying within an hour.
Bright sunlight can quickly heat up surfaces beyond 32C even if the outside air temperature is lower.
Warmer weather also leads to less people huddled together indoors, so the virus has less chance to jump from person to person.
Experts are expecting cases of coronavirus to peak in April, and the UK's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty has said warmer weather may slow down the rate of transmission.
Professor Mark Jit, who works for Public Health England (PHE), has also said the virus may not be as active in the summer.
Weather forecasters said a "warmer-than-normal" three months from March to May was 11 times more likely than a much-colder-than-average period.
The British Met Office's three-month forecast said that the chance of average temperatures falling into the warmest categories was more than half, while there is just a 5pc chance of severe cold.
"For March-May, above-average temperatures are more likely than below-average temperatures. The probability that average temperatures fall into the warmest of our five categories is around 55pc," the forecast said.
Many experts believe coronavirus will become endemic but will be seasonal, and will become less deadly as people build up an immunity to it.
Vaccines may also be ready in time for the next significant outbreak next winter.
"My considered opinion is that its physical nature means that it will probably become seasonal when it eventually settles down to the normal patterns of transmission we see for the other human respiratory coronaviruses," said Dr Michael Skinner, reader in virology at Imperial College London.
"That does not mean it will follow seasonal dynamics during the larger epidemics we are beginning to see in some countries - there may be just too many people infected so that most transmission is short range and less subject to environmental constraints," he added.
"It's also worth appreciating that flu shows seasonal dynamics in the temperate regions of each hemisphere but is not seasonal in tropics/sub-tropics (where humidity might benefit the virus and where seasons are far less evident, at least in terms of temperature)."
Francois Balloux, professor of computational systems biology and director of the UCL Genetics Institute, warned that the virus would not disappear anytime soon.
"Coronavirus is likely to be here to stay with us," he said, "though fatality rates would be expected to go down as an increasing proportion of the population is being exposed and builds up immunity to the virus." (© Daily Telegraph, London)