Seeing coronavirus impacts from space: Before-and-after satellite photos

Planet Earth is looking pretty deserted these days as people around the world are sheltering in place and avoiding social contact to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

The first cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, were reported in Wuhan, China in late 2019. Chinese officials first said they were monitoring an outbreak (opens in new tab) on Dec. 31. A few weeks later, Chinese authorities put the city of Wuhan on lockdown — the first of many executive decisions made by world leaders to protect citizens from the deadly disease. 

The virus has now spread to more than 166 countries, infecting nearly half a million people and killing more than 20,000. With events and large gatherings banned, businesses closed and governments around the world ordering citizens to "shelter in place," Earth has become so quiet and barren that even satellites can see the changes from orbit. Check out some of the before-and-after views below.

Related: Coronavirus outbreak: Live updates (opens in new tab)

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Christine Lunsford
Producer and Contributing Writer

Christine Lunsford joined the Space.com team in 2010 as a freelance producer and later became a contributing writer, covering astrophotography images, astronomy photos and amazing space galleries and more. During her more than 10 years with Space.com, oversaw the site's monthly skywatching updates and produced overnight features and stories on the latest space discoveries. She enjoys learning about subjects of all kinds.