Heat and COVID-19: About the series

This information is intended to help multiple audiences better understand the risk conditions of extreme-heat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cross-cutting topics covered in Q&A set 1 (general considerations and evidence) may be relevant to multiple audiences; Q&A set 2 (issues for health workers) addresses issues relevant to health workers and health facility managers; and Q&A set 3 (issues for heat action planners and city authorities) addresses issues relevant to city governments or institutions supporting heat preparedness and management. Supplementary checklists are also provided.

The questions were provided by public health agencies and city governments in several locations across North America, Europe, and Africa. The answers reflect expert opinions based on available evidence and guidance at the time of publication, and substantial review by experts. Further revisions and additional questions are expected to be added to the information series over time as lessons are learned and evidence improves. In all cases, decision-makers should refer to local laws and guidance where available.

Disclaimer: This first edition of “Considerations of risk management of extreme heat during the COVID-19 Pandemic” has been produced by the Global Heat Health Information Network. It has been developed in close collaboration with the World Health Organization, World Meteorological Organization, and other government and UN agencies who participate in the expert network. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors, and not the agencies they represent. These considerations are based on available evidence and published guidance at the time of publication (May 25, 2020). It took into account substantive expert reviews. It is the intent of the authors to review and update this content within six months of publication to reflect any lessons and advanced knowledge. Any misinterpretations or inaccuracies are borne by the authors.

Contributing authors

The following experts in extreme heat and public health participate in the Global Heat Health Information Network. In response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, they have come together to prepare the current considerations and evidence series.

Joy Shumake-Guillemot (Dr.PH), coordinating author, is the lead of the World Health Organization-World Meteorological Organization Joint Office for Climate and Health and co-chair of the Global Heat Health Information Network in Geneva, Switzerland.

Sulfikar Amir (PhD) is Associate Professor of Science, Technology, and Society Sociology Programme School of Social Sciences, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

Nausheen Anwar (Prof) is Director of the Karachi Urban Lab, in the Department of Social Sciences & Liberal Arts (SSLA), Institute of Business Administration, Karachi, Pakistan.

Julie Arrighi (MA) is the Urban Manager & ICRC Partnership Lead at Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre and Climate Advisor to the American Red Cross' international programs.

Stephan Böse-O'Reilly (M.D., MPH) leads the "Global Environmental Health" unit at the Institute of Occupational, Social and Environmental Medicine, Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich. As a paediatrician his focus is children's environmental health. As an assistant professor for public and environmental health his focus is on mercury and lead in artisanal mining; and climate change and health care - adaptation strategies.

Matt Brearley (PhD) is a thermal physiologist at the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre (Australia) and Managing Director of the heat stress consultancy, Thermal Hyperformance Pty Ltd. Australia

Jamie Cross (PhD) is Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom.

Hein Daanen (PhD) is a Professor in (environmental) exercise physiology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Francesca de'Donato (PhD) is an Epidemiologist at the Department of Epidemiology Lazio Regional Health Service - ASL ROMA 1, Rome, Italy

Bernd Eggen (PhD) worked at both the Met Office and Public Health England on climate change & human health effects & adaptation of the health system; with expertise on temperature effects on health across timescales and Copernicus Climate Change Services.

Andreas Flouris (PhD) is an Associate Professor at the University of Thessaly Department of Exercise Science in Greece and an Adjunct Professor in Environmental Medicine with the School of Human Kinetics at the University of Ottawa, Canada

Nicola Gerrett (PhD) is a post-doctoral researcher in environmental and exercise physiology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Werner Hagens (PhD) is an environmental health advisor at the Dutch National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) and is responsible for the Dutch Heatwave plan.

Dr. Alina Herrmann (Dr.Med), Institut für Global Health, AG Klimawandel, Ernährung und Gesundheit, Universitätsklinikum Heidelberg, Germany

Maud Huynen (PhD) is a researcher at the Maastricht Sustainability Institute (MSI). Her research interests include sustainability, climate change and health. She is the lead author of the 2019 Dutch Knowledge Agenda for Climate and Health (developed for ZonMw -The Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development).

Hunter Jones (MES) (PhD candidate) is the Climate and Health Project Manager for the NOAA, Climate Programme Office, managing projects including the National Integrated Heat Health Information System (NIHHIS), the Global Heat Health Information Network (GHHIN) and other initiatives focused on extreme heat, vector-borne diseases, and other environmental health topics.

Ladd Keith (PhD) is an Assistant Professor in Planning and Chair of Sustainable Built Environments at The University of Arizona, United States. He is an interdisciplinary researcher working at the intersection between urban planning and climate change and explores how climate action planning can make more sustainable and resilient cities.

Aalok Khandekar (PhD) is Assistant Professor of Anthropology/ Sociology, in the Department of Liberal Arts, Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad, India.

Jason Lee (PhD, FACSM) is the Chair of the Thermal Factors Scientific Committee, International Commission on Occupational Health and an Associate Professor in the School of Medicine at the National University of Singapore.

Rachel Lowe (PhD) is an associate professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom, with expertise in space-time modeling of the impact of global environmental change on infectious disease risk.

Franziska Matthies-Wiesler (PhD) is Senior scientist at the Institute for Epidemiology, Helmholtz Centre Munich, Germany and previously worked at the Centre for Environment and Health at the WHO Regional Office for Europe, where she worked on preparedness for and response to extreme weather events and was particularly involved in developing guidance for heat health action plans.

Marie Morelle (Prof) is a Senior Lecturer in Geography, University Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne, Paris, France.

Nathan Morris (PhD) is a post-doctoral researcher in environmental physiology at University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Claudia Di Napoli (PhD) is a research fellow in Climate and Health specialized in Heat Forecasting and Climatology at the University of Reading, UK.

Anindrya Nastiti (PhD) is Assistant Professor, in the Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Institut Teknologi Bandung, Indonesia.

Ian Norton (MD) is an Emergency Physician, currently Managing director of Respond Global Health emergencies consultancy, previously lead of the Emergency Medical Team Initiative at WHO creating standards for field hospitals and disaster and outbreak medical response teams.

Lars Nybo (PhD) is Professor in environmental exercise physiology at University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Elspeth Oppermann (PhD) is a researcher on social practices and adaptation in extreme environments, at the Department of Geography, Ludwig Maximilians University, Germany, and a member of the ICOH Scientific Committee on Thermal Factors.

Roop Singh (MA) is a Climate Risk Advisor with the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre focusing on translating science for applications in humanitarian contexts.

Lesliam Quirós-Alcalá (PhD), is an exposure scientist and environmental epidemiologist who focuses on assessing and characterizing environmental exposures in vulnerable populations. She is an assistant professor in Environmental Health and Engineering at the Bloomberg School and an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Maryland’s Maryland Institute of Applied Environmental Health, United States.

Anouk Roeling (MSc) is a Resilience Officer for the City of The Hague, The Netherlands, focusing on strengthening communities in their efforts to become more (climate) resilient. 

Ana M. Rule (PhD) is an exposure scientist with expertise in assessing airborne exposures to environmental hazards. She is assistant professor and director of the Exposure Assessment Lab in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, United States.

Gerardo Sanchez Martinez (PhD) is Senior Advisor to the UNEP - Technical University of Denmark (DTU) in Copenhagen Denmark. His work focuses on the assessment of social, health and economic impacts of climate change, and tracking the implementation and effectiveness of adaptation policy and activities.

Joris van Loenhout (PhD) is a senior researcher in the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, UCLouvain, Belgium. His research focuses on the health impacts of natural disasters, and in particular heatwaves.

Peter Van den Hazel (MD, PhD) is an environmental health physician in the Netherlands advising on Europe and International policy and programming, particularly related to children's environmental health.

Kirsten Vanderplanken (PhD) is a senior researcher in the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, UCLouvain, Belgium. She studies preparedness policies and health impacts of natural disasters, in particular heatwaves.

Benjamin Zaitchik (PhD) is an associate professor in the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, United States. His research addresses hydroclimatic variability across a range of spatial and temporal scales.


These considerations were reviewed by the following experts:

Jonathan Abrahams, World Health Organization, Switzerland

John Balbus, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, United States

Hamed Bakir, World Health Organization, Amman Jordan

Greg Carmichael, Global Atmosphere Watch, University of Iowa, United States

Amy Davison, City of Cape Town, South Africa

Shawn Donaldson, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Kristie Ebi, University of Washington, Seattle United States

Sally Edwards, Pan American Health Organization, Panama

Julia Golkhe, Virginia Tech University, United States

Brenda Jacklitch, NIOSH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, United States

Ollie Jay, University of Sydney, Australia

Eddie Jjemba, Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, Nairobi Kenya

Qudsia Huda, World Health Organization, Switzerland

Aynur Kadihasanoglu, International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent, Switzerland

Vladimir Kendrovski, WHO Regional Office for Europe, Germany

Pat Kinney, Boston University, United States

Kim Knowlton, Natural Resources Defense Council, United States

Vijay Limaye, Natural Resources Defense Council, United States

Michaela Lindahl, Independent Consultant in Nursing Practice, Baltimore MD, United States

Andreas Matzarakis, Human Biometeorology Research Centre, German Meteorological Service, Germany

Stephen Martin, NIOSH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, United States

Emer O’Connell, Public Health England, United Kingdom

Jose Reis, City of London, United Kingdom

Sirkka Rissanen, Finish Institute of Occupational Health, Finland

Jörn Rittweger, Professor of Space Physiology University of Cologne, Germany

Paul Schramm, National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, United States

Ross Thompson, Public Health England, United Kingdom

Vidhya Venugopal, Sri Ramachandra University, India

Regina Vetter, C40 Cool Cities Network, United Kingdom

Jon Williams, NIOSH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, United States

Appreciation to Sarah Tempest, UK, independent editor for copy-editing services, and Maddie West, WHO Consultant, for production design and editing.