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The Kaaba, inside Mecca’s Grand Mosque, was emptied by Saudi Arabia on March 5, 2020, over fears of the new coronavirus, an unprecedented move after the country suspended the year-round umrah pilgrimage.
Abdel Ghani Bashir /AFP via Getty Images

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The eerie emptiness of cities responding to coronavirus, in photos

Normally packed streets, museums, and venues around the world have fallen silent amid the deadly outbreak.

The Covid-19 coronavirus disease has now spread to 84 countries, infected at least 100,000 people, and killed more than 3,400.

World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is instructing countries to “to pull out all the stops” to mobilize their response. He and other officials are urging a focus on protecting the highest-risk groups: older people, people with preexisting health conditions, and health care workers.

This requires a coordinated, society-wide effort to spread the word about measures like hand-washing, avoiding large gatherings in areas where the virus is transmitting, seeking care if you have Covid-19 symptoms, and isolating the sick.

The emergency has forced governments to shut down schools, organizers to cancel conferences, and the ordinarily teeming metropolis of Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak, to fall eerily silent. The social and economic costs of the outbreak have been immense and will only grow larger.

Here are scenes from the response to the outbreak around the world:


The Beijing Daxing International Airport on March 3, 2020. Airline bookings have decreased sharply as coronavirus expands worldwide.
Andrea Verdelli/Getty Images

Czech Republic

Flags wave on empty stands ahead of the women’s Biathlon World Cup event in Nove Mesto na Morave, Czech Republic, on March 5, 2020. Due to the coronavirus, the Biathlon World Cup will take place without spectators.
Petr David Josek/AP


The Louvre in Paris, the world’s most visited museum, was closed for a second day running on March 2, 2020, after staff refused to work due to coronavirus fears.
Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images


The International Tourism Exchange in Berlin was canceled due to the coronavirus, March 2, 2020. Several conferences worldwide have been canceled to prevent the virus from spreading further.
Frank May/Picture Alliance via Getty Images


The Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali is seen nearly empty due to the coronavirus outbreak on March 2, 2020.
Mahendra Moonstar/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images


A firefighter disinfects a traditional shopping center to help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus in Tehran on March 6, 2020.
Ebrahim Noroozi/AP


Members of the Iraqi civil defense disinfect a mosque in Najaf on March 3, 2020.
Haidar Hamdani/AFP/Getty Images


The Piazza Duomo in Milan remains empty on March 5, 2020. Italy closed all schools and universities until March 15 to help combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Piero Cruciatti/AFP via Getty Images


Members of the Japan Davis Cup team at the opening ceremony of the Davis Cup qualifier between Japan and Ecuador in Miki on March 6, 2020. The event is held behind closed doors, without spectators, due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images


Sanitary workers disinfect a church in Beirut on March 5, 2020.
Hussam Chbaro/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images


All public masses were indefinitely suspended in Singapore as a protective measure to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Martin Abbugao/AFP via Getty Images

South Korea

Dongsung-ro, a major shopping thoroughfare in Daegu, near the capital of Seoul, is almost entirely devoid of people on February 27, 2020.
Seung-il Ryu/NurPhoto via Getty Images


Sun beds lie empty at La Caleta beach in the Canary island of Tenerife on February 27, 2020.
Joan Mateu/AP

United Kingdom

London’s Chinatown district on February 13, 2020. There have been 36 cases of coronavirus reported in the UK so far.
Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP via Getty Images

United States

This outdoor space in New York City is sparsely populated as fears of the coronavirus spreading through the US increase on March 4, 2020.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
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