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32 Photos Of The Empty Streets Of Shanghai During The Coronavirus Outbreak

Published 7 months ago

To this day, there are over 40,000 reported cases of people being infected by the coronavirus in mainland China. In fears of contracting the virus, many Chinese people choose to spend as little time outside as possible, leading to cities that were once bustling with people appear almost empty and desolate. These empty streets inspired Chinese photographer Nicoco to start a project titled One Person City – a photo series documenting Shanghai during the outbreak of the virus.

“One Person City began as a curiosity to see how a sleepless, major international city would react to uncertainty. The coronavirus only became nationwide news after Wuhan was quarantined in late January. I set out to explore a few days afterward, which coincided with the official Chinese New Year celebration,” said the photographer in an interview with Bored Panda. “My experience visiting popular Chinese sites during the New Year festivities is similar to being in New York City during the New Year ball drop. It is crowded, crowded, very crowded. It was so crowded that I decided from my singular experience in 2014 to never go out during the holiday again.”

More info: nicoco.co | Instagram

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Image source: nicoco

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“My experience living in Shanghai during the coronavirus outbreak … [could be described as] isolation. It’s more than people avoiding areas they think will be crowded. It’s people not leaving their homes entirely,” said Nicoco. “In hindsight, I vastly underestimated the Chinese memory of SARS from 2002. Over several days of biking, walking, and metro-ing around the city, most of the people I saw were janitorial staff, security officers, and cashiers. It is a Where’s Waldo? of millions of people. There are many faces to the pandemic, yet for most, it will seemingly have no face at all.”

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Nicoco has been living in Shanghai for six years and has witnessed the growth of the city first hand. “It is a place of rich history where change happens instantaneously. In the time I have been privileged to live here, I’ve watched Shanghai transform from a cash-based society to completely mobile payments,” said the photographer. “Thousands of public bikes have seemingly materialized from air, and new metro stations open every year. In the ’90s, people saw Tokyo as the city of the future. Today, that city is Shanghai.”

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Image source: nicoco

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Nicoco said that the virus robbed Chinese people from what should have been the happiest time of the year. “People are worried about getting sick, their loved ones getting sick, resource shortages, losing their salaries, and much broader things like months of hardship that are likely ahead,” said Nicoco. “The objective of One Person City is to capture what this fear looks like: it’s invisible and unknown. I sneezed and a woman two meters away shot a wary glance at me, then took an extra step back.”

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Image source: nicoco

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Nicoco says that everything has stopped for the past two weeks as the government extended the national holiday. Only critical businesses such as grocery stores and sanitation facilities remain open. “Everything’s empty. Fresh products were completely bought out. As of Monday, February 10th, most businesses are allowed to reopen, but the city remains eerily empty as people stay self quarantined in their homes. There is a lot of anxiety in the air,” Nicoco described the situation.

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The photographer shared some of their observations on class privilege: “As I traveled around the city and saw primarily low-wage workers such as sales clerks, janitors, and security guards, it was when I realized these people would be considered more fortunate than workers who are unpaid during this period or simply fired.”

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Image source: nicoco

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But even though life in Shanghai slowed down, it didn’t stop to a complete halt. “On one day, I biked down streets filled with laundry hanging off every railing, street pole, and tree in sight. On another day, I saw a long queue for (of all things) bubble milk tea. These are much-appreciated signs that despite the very legitimate fears and concerns, life still goes on and the city will eventually come back to life,” concluded Nicoco.

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Aušrys Uptas

One day, this guy just kind of figured - "I spend most of my time on the internet anyway, why not turn it into a profession?" - and he did! Now he not only gets to browse the latest cat videos and fresh memes every day but also shares them with people all over the world, making sure they stay up to date with everything that's trending on the web. Some things that always pique his interest are old technologies, literature and all sorts of odd vintage goodness. So if you find something that's too bizarre not to share, make sure to hit him up!

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coronavirus, coronavirus in china, coronavirus outbreak, Nicoco, Shanghai
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