Coronavirus Impacts Country : While Italy remains on lockdown in a bid to prevent the spreading of COVID-19, satellite images from the European Space Agency have shown a drastic decrease in air pollution since residents have been forced to stay indoors.
Before and after images, which are based on data from the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite, use colour to show just how much air pollution – particularly nitrogen dioxide emissions – has declined over the country between January 1 and March 11 of this year.
The European Space Agency (ESA) said the reduction in emissions was most noticeable in northern Italy, which ‘coincides with its nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus’.
In a press release Copernicus Sentinel-5P mission manager Claus Zehner said:
The decline in nitrogen dioxide emissions over the Po Valley in northern Italy is particularly evident. Although there could be slight variations in the data due to cloud cover and changing weather, we are very confident that the reduction in emissions that we can see coincides with the lockdown in Italy, causing less traffic and industrial activities.
Josef Aschbacher, ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes, added:
Copernicus Sentinel-5P Tropomi is the most accurate instrument today that measures air pollution from space.
These measurements, globally available thanks to the free and open data policy, provide crucial information for citizens and decision makers.
Italy is currently on a complete lockdown after becoming the second worst affected country in the world amid the current COVID-19 outbreak. The Italian death toll is currently sitting at 1,441 at the time of writing, with 21,157 further confirmed cases.
The World Health Organization has now described Europe as the ‘epicentre’ of the pandemic, urging counties to take a ‘comprehensive approach’ in combating the spread of the disease.
WHO’s director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu said at a press conference:
More than 132,000 cases of Covid-19 have now been reported to the WHO from 123 countries and territories; 5,000 people have lost their lives – a tragic milestone.
Europe has now become the epicentre of the pandemic, with more reported cases and deaths than the rest of the world combined, apart from China. More cases are now being reported every day than were reported in China at the height of its epidemic.
Our message to countries continues to be: you must take a comprehensive approach.
Any country that looks at the experience of other countries with large epidemics and thinks ‘that won’t happen to us’ is making a deadly mistake. It can happen to anyone.
Elsewhere in Europe, people are being urged to self-isolate if they exhibit any symptoms or have knowingly come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.