Rush on toilet paper, planes running empty, drop in the quality of phone calls, dogs and cats thrown out the window … The disturbances caused by the Covid-19 epidemic lead to a cascade of consequences that sometimes go very far.
The quarantine of millions of inhabitants, the closure of schools and universities, the shutdown of factories and the suppression of transport: governments are taking great measures to try to stem the spread of the coronavirus. But these exceptional measures are not without consequences. Here is a quick tour of the spectacular and unusual effects of the Covid-19.
Fruit and vegetables rotting in the fields
Confined to their region, Chinese workers had to abandon orchards and huge vegetable fields in Yunnan province, reports the Chinese daily newspaper Global Times. This region is one of the main producers in Southeast Asia, but the blocking of borders and the lack of manpower has led to the rotting in the fields of thousands of tons of mandarins, apples, potatoes and other radishes. They had to hire dumpster rentals just to remove all this rotten junk.
In Kenya, one of the main producers of fresh flowers in the world, more than 10 tonnes of flowers had to be thrown in the trash in a single day due to the cancellation of international flights. And the picture is hardly brighter in the Netherlands, which is hoping for an improvement on Mother’s Day in May.
Empty planes circling the air
Ghost planes burning thousands of tonnes of kerosene over Europe: this is the absurd situation we witnessed in February in Europe. Companies, which have specific time slots for each airport, are in fact bound by European regulations to carry out at least 80% of the flights planned in their time slot, otherwise they could lose it.
However, the coronavirus caused a drop of 13.5% in passenger traffic for European airports, in the first three months of 2020, according to ACI Europe, which unites more than 500 airports. Faced with the scandal caused by the situation, the European Commission announced a temporary easing of its regulations.
The dramatic fall in pollution in China
Is coronavirus stronger than Greta Thunberg? The slowdown in industrial production and the halting of transport and led to a fall in CO2 and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions. In the eastern and central regions, the drop in NO2 emissions (notably linked to the combustion of fossil fuels) thus reached 10% to 30% compared to other years. It is the first time that NASA scientists have seen such a significant change in such a large and event-related region. The Carbon Bref website has calculated that measures linked to the coronavirus epidemic had reduced Chinese CO2 emissions by 100 million tonnes in the first half of February.
Overloaded servers and telephone platforms
Are you cloistered at home in quarantine? What to do, if not spend your time playing video games on your mobile. The servers for Game for Peace and Plague Inc. exploded in January, unable to respond to the demand for extraordinary downloads. Netflix, which offers streaming movies, is experiencing a surge in the stock market.
On the professional side, the cancellation of events and meetings has led to a boom in videoconferences … and overloaded networks. In China and South Korea, the proliferation of phone calls has caused audio quality to deteriorate by 10%, according to Spearline, a platform that tests international lines, and Italy is also threatened.
The private jet boom
No way to take an airliner? Never mind: the wealthy fall back on private jets, which record a jump in their orders. They observe an increase of 100 to 300% depending on the regions of the world according to the American company Paramount Business Jets. The Swiss company Luna Jets reports that 30% of its requests are today linked to the coronavirus.
These are customers who want to flee a contaminated area or have to travel at all costs for work. Traveling by private plane also avoids contact with crowds at airports and overcrowding on planes.
Rush on pulp and toilet paper
Empty shelves in supermarkets, pharmacies out of stock of alcoholic gel: some products have seen their sales explode in recent days. According to Nielsen, the week of March 2 to 8 was spectacular for consumer products, with sales growth of 6.2% in value and 5.4% in volume.
Disinfectant gels notably recorded an increase of 187%. Customers bought packets of pasta by 20 or 30, as soon as Italy began to be affected by the coronavirus, according to supermarket executives. In Australia, there have been riots in stores to get … toilet paper (diarrhea is not a priori part of the symptoms of coronavirus though).
Hungry or abandoned pets
The quarantine measures taken hastily in Hubei province in China in January left many dog and cat owners in a panic. Unable to return home, their animals were left abandoned, with no food available. Many Chinese Internet users have been calling for help on social media to have someone come and take care of it, but exit restrictions have unfortunately condemned the poor beasts.
Despite denials of contamination from dogs, many animals have also been abandoned or even thrown out of the window by their owners, and scenes of cannibalism have been witnessed in some cities, shelter volunteers report.