As a Third of Mankind Enters Coronavirus Lockdown, the Impact on Cities Can Be Seen From Space

One-third of the world's population is now under lockdown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. People in India, a country with a population of over 1.3 billion, were asked to stay in their homes from Wednesday in a bid to stop the spread of the new coronavirus. This follows similar measures taken in China, where the outbreak began, most of Europe, parts of the U.S., and countries in South America and Africa.

In total, the lockdown has affected around a third of the world's 7.8 billion people. That's about the same as the global population at the end of WWII.

According to the Johns Hopkins University dashboard, there have been over 487,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19. This includes more than 22,000 deaths and 117,700 recoveries.

Cases in the U.S. have increased dramatically in the last week. At the time of writing, there were over 69,000 cases in the country. This is just 5,000 fewer than Italy, which is the worst impacted country after China.

To stop the virus from spreading, governments in nations across the world have asked citizens to remain in their homes and avoid contact with people outside members of their household. According to the Wall Street Journal, lockdown measures are in place in 28 states. Measures range in extremity—from closing social venues and asking people to social distance, to ordering people to stay home unless they are getting food, healthcare, providing care, or performing an essential service.

The impact of people staying off the streets has been documented by the Maxar News Bureau, a program providing a space-based view of current global events. Using its satellites, Maxar has documented how the coronavirus lockdowns have led to cities, tourist attractions, roads and airports being almost devoid of people.

In the U.S., images show airports, roads, shopping malls and tourist attractions with barely any sign of human activity. Across the globe, it reveals Rome and Munich tourist-free. The Taj Mahal, in India, which welcomes up to 40,000 tourists per day, was pictured on March 18 with few visitors.

It is unclear how long lockdown measures will be kept in place. In China, which in January put some of the most extreme quarantine measures in place, people are starting to be allowed outside again. In the city of Wuhan, where the virus was first discovered, the lockdown order is expected to be lifted on April 8. This is almost a month after cases of COVID-19 began to decline in the country.

On March 19, officials announced that for the first time in months, there had been no new domestic cases of coronavirus. Cases have been reported since, but the virus is said to have largely been brought under control.

Correction 03/26 2.32 p.m.: A previous version of this article said that between March 24 and 25, the number of people confirmed to have had the virus increased by 50,000. This was the global increase in cases. Not the increase in U.S. cases. This has been removed to avoid confusion.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.