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COVID-19 and the Environment - an Odd Couple with Strange Benefits

Efforts to contain the deadly Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic via stay-at-home orders, are helping to limit the spread of the pandemic and with a surprising added bonus -  improved air quality, and a clearer and cleaner Ganges river.

Weeks ago as the Coronavirus epidemic gripped Wuhan, Hubei province, China, the Chinese government took the extraordinary measure to lockdown more than 60 million people in attempts to contain the pathogen. During that time, the first media reports surfaced of better air quality and cleared skies in some places across China. 

That was but a sliver of an improving and better environment matched paradoxically against a deadly new contagion and brought about by the forced inactivity of some 60-plus million people. 

Then last month, as it faced increasing cases of COVID-19, India, a country of 1.4 billion people, ordered a lockdown of its full population resulting in a virtual freeze on transportation and factory operations. The result: a grander improved air quality across India, as reported by the BBC-News. Reports have confirmed an azure blue sky replacing a smoky grey hue over the Indian city of Delhi as air pollution has plummeted to levels not see in living memory.  Delhi and 13 other Indian cities have the distinction of being on a list of the world's most polluted places. Other Indian cities are reporting current views of Himalayan peaks that had been obscured by smog for decades. And the waters of the Ganges river are said to be clearer and cleaner because of a reduction in factory run off amid the production halt to fight COVID-19.

An odd couple - COVID-19 and the environment - the bad helping a good, amounting to strange benefits coming out of this deadly disease and humanity's actions to contain the invisible killer.