Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte of Italy has announced on March 9 the nationwide lockdown at least until April 3 as COVID-19 continues to take a mounting toll on the country. Schools were already closed, events were canceled, as well as public spaces and tourist attractions.
Italy's Growing Number of Confirmed Cases
As of March 15, Italy's confirmed cases have already reached 21,157 and about 1,966 have already recovered and 1,441 number of deaths. There are 17,750 active cases and 91% or 16,232 of it are considered mild cases; and about 9% or 1,518 of it are serious or in critical condition.
Among the closed cases recorded, 58% or 1,966 of it has already recovered while 42% or 1,441 are already dead.
Italy's health care resources have become exhausted. With these growing numbers, the coronavirus has found its new epicenter. WHO chief Tedros Adhanon Ghebreyesussaid in a virtual conference that Europe has now become the new epicenter of the pandemic COVID-19 with more reported cases and deaths than the rest of the world except for China.
Levels of nitrogen oxide emissions drop in Italy
A 'notable drop' in air pollution across Italy between January to March after the coronavirus lockdown has been reported by the European Space Agency Copernicus satellite. Tropomi was used on the Copernicus Sentinel-5 satellite to plot traces of these harmful gases in the atmosphere and used the data collected to make an animation showing its changes.
The reduction in emission as seen from space seems to coincides when Italy was put into lockdown causing less industrial activities and traffic that is very much evident in Po Valley in northern Italy wherein the decline in NO2 is seen, according to ESA's Claus Zehner, Sentinel-5P mission manager.
Similar findings were also reported by Santiago Gasso a NASA researcher, upon looking at the data from Copernicus. Just within a month, there is a clear decrease in NO2 levels in northern Italy.
The ESA satellite that captured this data is dedicated to monitoring the Earth's atmosphere. Aerosols, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen dioxide were just some of the variety of harmful gases that the Tropomi instrument is used for mapping its traces.
With Italy's lockdown, it also closed much of its industrial activity and limited the air and car travel to prevent the virus from spreading further.
The effects of the COVID-19 in China is not only seen on land but it can also from space. Orbital instruments designed in monitoring the planet's atmosphere picked up a significant drop in the nitrogen dioxide levels since January.
The substantial drop might have been because of the economic slowdown and travel restrictions in China since the COVID-19 became widespread. The Chinese government has closed business and restricted travel between cities to limit the spread of the virus. The impact of those measures is seen in local pollution levels.
Fei Liu, an air quality researcher in NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center said that some cases of the drop-off of the NO2 have already been recorded before: just like the 2008 economic recession, and also during the Lunar New Year but nothing like this has ever happened before.
As the World Health Organization announced the COVID-19 as a pandemic because it continues to spread worldwide, this second-order impact is most likely to be also seen in the different countries who already has announced a lockdown.