We invite you to read Global Voices' special coverage on the global impact of COVID-19.
We generally tend to associate empty cities with science fiction.
And films like The Omega Man (1971) and Soy Leyenda (2007), among others, come to mind. They all show memorable shots of their protagonists roaming the deserted streets of post-apocalyptic cities that have lost their hectic pace of life as a result of a pandemic, a zombie apocalypse, or an alien invasion.
Those scenes are now a reality in various parts of the world, as humanity is desperately trying to contain the spread of the coronavirus. One in three people in the world is under quarantine right now.
With a community of copywriters and translators from over a hundred countries, Global Voices has put together a series of videos showing some deserted cities around the world.
With 854 confirmed cases and 38 deaths from covid-19, North Macedonia imposed a national quarantine and 9 p.m. curfew. at 5 a.m. on weekdays, and full curfew on weekends.
This video by Bube Domazetov, shot on March 28, shows the lonely center of the capital Skopje.
Filip Stojanovski, regional editor of Global Voices for central and eastern Europe, comments:
The only time when you can see the streets of Skopje without a lot of people is during summer heat waves or the holiday season. The video feels unreal, almost as if the footage is artificial, like looking at a CGI 3D architectural model of the place.
The only time Skopje's busy streets are empty is during the summer heat waves or the holiday season. The video seems unreal, almost as if it were an artificial shot, or as if you were looking at a 3D digital model of the city.
(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ZX9ebV3sLI (/ embed)
The capital of the Czech Republic is one of the most visited cities in Europe: It receives an average of eight million tourists per year, six times its stable population.
The country has been in quarantine since March 16, and only supermarkets, pharmacies, banks, and home-delivery restaurants with permission to work are open. More than 5,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed, and as of April 13, 143 people had died.
Filip Noubel, editor-in-chief of Global Voices, a Czech by birth and a resident of Prague for many years, says:
Seeing those historical landmarks free of crowds feels both unreal and liberating, as the city definitely suffers from over-tourism. Suddenly, the city is returned to us, the residents, and we can't stop taking pictures of a deserted Charles Bridge, an empty Old Town Square.
It is unreal and, at the same time, liberating ver these historical monuments without the usual crowds, since the city suffers, in effect, the excess tourism. Suddenly, the city comes back to us, its residents, and we can't stop snapping photos of the lonely Charles Bridge, the empty Old Town Square.
This video by the vlogger Lukas, shot on March 22, shows the empty Prague.
(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vArd780uGqI (/ embed)
One of the city's top football clubs, Olympique de Marseille, plays its anthem, as if played by fans, on the stadium speakers every night at 8 p.m.
“It is very overwhelming,” says Claire Ulrich, translator for the French version of Global Voices.
More than 130,000 cases have been confirmed in France; Of these, more than 1700 are from the Alpes-Côte d'Azur province, where Marseille is located.
This is a club tweet:
🎶 𝘼𝙐𝙓 𝘼𝙍𝙈𝙀𝙀𝙀𝙎 🎶 𝘼𝙐𝙓 𝘼𝙍𝙈𝙀𝙀𝙀𝙎 🎶
Votre voix résonne chaque soir à 20h à l ’@orangevelodrome pour soutenir nos héros du quotidien 🗣👏
– Olympique de Marseille (@OM_Officiel) April 4, 2020
Tweet: Your voice resonates every night at 8 p.m. at the Orange Velodrome (stadium) to support our everyday heroes.
The daily battle continues with the OM.
Lyrics of the song: To arms / To arms / We are citizens of Marseille / And we will succeed / Come on, OM!
This video from Melbourne's professional drone recording service Andaman shows the city of five million as if it had stopped in time.
Our collaborator Kevin Rennie, who lives in Melbourne, says:
A city of over 5 million people, well known for its very heavy traffic, both cars and pedestrians around the central business district (CBD). It's even quieter in the days after this video was taken.
It is reminiscent of scenes from Stanley Kramer's 1959 Hollywood blockbuster “On the Beach,” starring Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner. It was about the end days after a nuclear war.
A city of more than five million inhabitants, known for its dense vehicular and pedestrian traffic in its central business district. It is even quieter the days after the recording of this video.
It reminds me of scenes from the blockbuster 1959 Hollywood movie The Final Hour by Stanley Kramer starring Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner. The film was about the final days after a nuclear war.
(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruHJSnh1guY (/ embed)
Khojasta Sameyee, editor of Global Voices from his native Afghanistan, posted a video he recorded while driving through the streets of Kabul, saying:
The video shows the third day of quarantine in Kabul city. The government has locked down Kabul city for more than three weeks since March 28, and the video shows a usually very crowded area of Kabul called Qale-e-Fethullah.
The video is of the third day of quarantine in the city of Kabul. The government declared a quarantine of more than three weeks in the city as of March 28, and here you see an area of Kabul called Qale-e-Fethullah that was always very congested.
– Eng.Khojasta Sameyee (@KhojastaSameyee) March 30, 2020
Kabul in quarantine mode.
In Afghanistan, reported positive cases of coronavirus reached 665 on April 13.
The most recent cases are 16 in Kabul, eight in Herat, two in Kandahar, two in Logar, two in Daikundi, two in Takhar, one in Bamiyan and one in Parwan.
The capital of Bangladesh is well known for its chaotic traffic, but since the government declared a general public holiday on March 26, the city of 21 million people has looked calmer.
Below is a video of Dhaka posted on YouTube on March 29, 2020 by Naibur Rahman Joy. The main streets are almost deserted, only a few vehicles circulate, and the boats and ferries remain orderly parked on the Buriganga River.
(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bh-QEOIbFx0 (/ embed)
As of April 13, there were 803 cases and 39 COVID-19 deaths in Bangladesh.
On March 22, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared an unusual “curfew of the people” at 7 a.m. at 9 p.m. to reduce the risk of contagion from covid-19.
With the exception of essential and emergency services, all shops and services were closed during that curfew, as well as almost all public transport stopped. And on March 24, a 21-day quarantine began. The “People's Curfew” was a trial for the actual and longest quarantine, which was more complicated for the Indian Government in handling the movements of the people.
Indian Express Online's YouTube channel posted a video with shocking views of various quarantined Indian cities including Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata, Pune, Chandigarh and Ludhiana.
(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-O1wkKNRTWA (/ embed)
As of April 13, 2020, India recorded 9,635 cases of COVID-19 and 331 deaths.
Nepal announced a one-week national quarantine on March 24, which was subsequently extended to April 15. As of April 13, Nepal confirmed 14 cases of COVID-19, with no deaths.
On YouTube, there are numerous drone videos from different Nepalese cities in quarantine, such as Hetauda Bazar, Pokhara and Dharan.
This video posted by Highlights Kathmandu shows the Harisiddhi residential neighborhood in Lalitpur, neighboring city of the capital Kathmandu:
(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9A0b8Pmq9RQ (/ embed)
The Pakistani province of Sindh, whose capital is Karachi, began a 14-day quarantine on March 24.
This video of Karachi, a city of 16 million inhabitants, shows the empty streets shortly before the quarantine takes effect. Shahtaj Bhutto published it.
(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jiPFCrYyeiY (/ embed)
As of April 13, 2020, Pakistan confirmed 5,496 cases and 93 deaths.
Romina Navarro, a Global Voices collaborator based in Buenos Aires, sent this video from Argentina published by the newspaper La Nación.
In the second week of April, Argentina had 2208 confirmed cases and 97 deaths. A national mandatory quarantine has been in effect since March 20.
What strikes me most is the absence of the crazy, noisy traffic and crowded sidewalks that I used to hate of Buenos Aires, and now somehow I miss them. The capital city that usually was lively and sleepless now seems sad and sleepy, but still so beautiful.
What strikes me most is the absence of chaotic and noisy traffic, and the sidewalks full of people who hated Buenos Aires so much, and now I miss him a little. A capital that used to be lively and sleepless, now seems sad and sleepy, but still beautiful.
(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKYSJQX4YAw (/ embed)
The New York City and New Jersey metropolitan area is the new epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of April 13, New York State recorded 195,031 cases out of 500,000 across the United States.
Shanori Samea, who writes about Afghanistan for Global Voices, is a graduate of Columbia University in New York City. He sent us this Reuters video where you can see the empty city subway:
– Reuters (@Reuters) March 30, 2020
Craigh Hettich is traveling home from Times Square this afternoon in the empty New York subway car.
Òmọ Yoòbá, Head of Yoruba Translation for Global Voices, posted a video that he recorded in the largest city in Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa, Lagos, with the following explanation:
Lagos, popularly called Lasgidi by the youth population in Nigeria is famous for its busy and bustling culture, but it has ceased to bubble for 10 days now. The part of Lagos in this video is Òkè Afá, along the Ìsọlọ̀ Èjìgbò road, however with the lockdown, people are still seen moving about, some taking a walk, jogging, some to buy food, while others are out to do one thing or the other.
Lagos, popularly known to young Nigerians as Lasgidi, is famous for its intense and busy culture, but it's been around for ten days now. The part of Lagos that appears in the video is Òkè Afá, along Ìsọlọ̀ Èjìgbò street. Despite the quarantine, there are still people who go from one place to another, some go for a walk, run, others to buy food, and others go for any reason.
(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SDtg5kvJ8I (/ embed)
How has your city, town or region been affected by the quarantine? You have videos? Share the links in the comments!