7 Positive Coronavirus Stories and Developments to Help You Lighten Up

It might be difficult to look on the bright side at the moment, but positive developments are already in sight.
Chris Young
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Though positive news stories have largely been buried under an avalanche of statistics, news, and ongoing updates about the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lately, they are still out there.

It might seem that, in general, cheerful stories have been few and far between of late, but even in the direst of circumstances, there is often a silver lining.

Here are some positive developments related to COVID-19 that might point towards a light at the end of the tunnel for all of the people in quarantine, confinement, and those infected by the coronavirus that has the majority of the world in lockdown.


1. On March 19, China reported zero new domestic cases of coronavirus infection

China yesterday reported no new cases of domestic coronavirus infections, for the first time since the beginning of the outbreak. The 34 infections diagnosed on Wednesday in China, and reported today, were in people that arrived in the country from abroad, the National Health Commission said.

This is a significant, positive development in the country, where citizens have been in lockdown since January 23rd. Hopefully, it is also a sign of things to come for the rest of the world. 

2. In Venice, locals are reporting they can see fish in the canals for the first time in years

The water of the canals in Venice is clearer ever since the COVID-19 coronavirus has put a halt to tourism in the famous city. Over the past few years, the city has been struggling to deal with overcrowding and pollution caused largely by tourism.

This has resulted in the city's canals becoming murky due to pollution. Now, videos and images are emerging of the canals, showing that the water has become crystal clear.

It's not just Venice that has seen big changes. In other parts of Italy, where drastic lockdown measures were put in place following a spike in COVID-19 cases, such as the port of Cagliari, a video has surfaced of dolphins. Swans have been filmed in the waters of Milan, and other wildlife have reportedly been spotted returning to areas that were previously uninhabitable.

As one commenter on social media put it, perhaps "this isn't an apocalypse. It's an awakening."

3. Air pollution and global CO2 levels are going down dramatically

Air pollutants and warming gases over cities worldwide have gone down dramatically since the COVID-19 coronavirus started to impact work and travel.

As the BBC reports, researchers in New York say "early results show that carbon monoxide, mainly from cars, has been reduced by almost 50 percent compared with last year in the typically traffic-heavy city."

7 Positive Coronavirus Stories and Developments to Help You Lighten Up
Source: NASA

CO2 emissions have also dropped dramatically. Scientists predict that by May, when CO2 emissions are typically at their peak due to the decomposition of leaves, the levels recorded will be the lowest since the financial crisis over a decade ago.

As the image above from NASA also shows, levels of nitrous dioxide — a noxious polluting gas emitted by power plants, industrial facilities, and transport vehicles — has also fallen dramatically.

As tweeter @hell0pia explains, you can even see the Tatra mountains from Kraków now due to the smog lifting in the city.

4. Vaccine trials are already underway

On March 16, the first human was injected with an "investigational" vaccine as part of the U.S.'s human trials for a coronavirus vaccine.

Though it is a promising step towards developing a vaccine for preventing infection from the COVID-19, public health officials still say it will take a year to a year and a half to fully test and develop any vaccine.

This is because it is important to rigorously test whether the vaccine might have any adverse side effects that could affect large parts of the global population.

The first-ever injection of the investigational vaccine for the COVID-19 coronavirus happened in Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI), the institute reported in a statement.

5. The U.S. has signed a big relief package deal

Governments worldwide, including the U.S., are passing unprecedented laws to help citizens affected by the ongoing pandemic. In the United States, President Trump signed into law a bill that ensures paid leave benefits to many Americans. It is part of a wide-randing aid package that will help those struggling with the current situation.

As The Washington Post reports, the legislation also promises free coronavirus testing to anyone, including people who are uninsured. The bill also increases health funding across the U.S.

In the U.K., the government has announced a temporary complete ban on evictions, as well as additional protection for renters and homebuyers, including a 3-month pause on mortgage payments.

In Spain, meanwhile, a petition calling on the government to temporarily halt freelance social security payments — which go up to almost €300 monthly, and have to be paid regardless of income — has over 300,000 signatures.

6. Some drugs are already showing promise as a cure

Medical authorities in China have claimed that a drug, called favipiravir, which was developed in Japan to treat new strains of influenza appears to be an effective form of treatment for coronavirus patients.

The news comes after clinical trials, involving 340 patients, in Wuhan and Shenzhen, The Guardian reports.

“It has a high degree of safety and is clearly effective in treatment,” Zhang Xinmin, an official at China’s science and technology ministry, told reporters this week.

Patients who were given the medicine turned negative for the virus after a media of four days after becoming positive. That's compared with the median of 11 days for those not treated with the drugs, according to public broadcaster NHK.

What's more, X-rays taken of the patients confirmed improvements in lung condition in about 91% of the patients treated with favipiravir, compared to 62% in those that didn't take the drug. However, researchers do warn that the drug doesn't seem to be as effective in cases that are already severe.

In Australia, researchers are starting clinical trials for what they claim could be a cure for COVID-19. The scientists at the University of Queensland say that Chloroquine, an anti-malarial drug, and HIV-suppressing combination lopinavir/ritonavir have both shown promising results in human tests where the virus 'disappeared' in infected patients.

7. It's bringing out the best in people

In difficult moments people come together, help each other out, and show a sense of solidarity that is often missing in calmer times — despite some ugly, unwanted scenes related to supermarket stockpiling, this has overwhelmingly been the case in people's reactions to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

In Italy, which has been one of the worst affected countries by the pandemic, whole communities have come together to sing songs and play instruments from their balconies.

In Spain, citizens started a tradition of clapping from their balconies for the nurses, doctors, and other healthcare workers working hard to fight to help those who are ill.

Examples of communities coming together to help each other out — while keeping a safe distance — have been spreading through social media; whether it's kids offering to go shopping for local elderly neighbors, or teams of engineers coming together to 3D print much-needed respirators.

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