Coronavirus: Satellite shows fall in pollution over northern Italy amid lockdown

Pollution over parts of Italy is dramatically falling as the entire country is placed in lockdown in an attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Data obtained from the European Space Agency’s satellites shows nitrogen dioxide levels have reduced sharply over northern Italy, the region at the epicentre of COVID-19 infections in the country.

Nitrogen dioxide is a harmful gas emitted when fossil fuels are burnt at high temperatures, most commonly at power plants and in motor vehicles.

The initial lockdown of northern Italy is likely to have led to a slowdown in economic activity as fewer people travel, causing a drop in emissions.

The Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite operated by the European Space Agency and European Commission was launched to monitor air pollution levels in cities and towns across the globe.

NASA previously published satellite images which showed a similar phenomenon over China, when large swathes of that country was placed in lockdown to stem the spread of the disease.

Italy has since has shut all shops except food stores, pharmacies and stores selling “essential” items, to try and stop the spread of COVID-19.

Data showing a fall in air pollution levels in Italy is likely to be noticed across the country in the coming days as economic activity falls further in the region.

Bergamo, in the Lombardy region near Milan, is among the Italian towns worst affected by coronavirus.

It has more than 2,000 confirmed cases – recording a jump of over 300 cases in 24 hours – and almost 150 deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.

Doctors in the area have said they cannot cope with the rate of infected patients, likening the virus to an “earthquake”.

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