Paris falls silent: Sound maps show impact of confinement

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A woman crosses an empty street during a nationwide confinement to counter the new coronavirus, in Paris, Thursday, March 26, 2020. (AP)
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A woman walks in an empty street near the Eiffel Tower during a nationwide confinement to counter the new coronavirus, in Paris, Thursday, March 26, 2020. (AP)
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A woman takes a break after a run in an empty street during a nationwide confinement to counter the new coronavirus, in Paris, Thursday, March 26, 2020. (AP)
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A boy plays with a ball during a nationwide confinement to counter the new coronavirus, in Paris, Thursday, March 26, 2020. (AP)
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This picture shows the empty Arc of Triomphe square during a nationwide confinement to counter the new coronavirus, in Paris, Thursday, March 26, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 26 March 2020

Paris falls silent: Sound maps show impact of confinement

  • Some 150 monitoring stations around Paris and its suburbs have recorded an “unusual silence” since the virus prevention lockdown officially began

PARIS: What’s that sound beneath the Eiffel Tower? It’s silence — a rare phenomenon in big cities like Paris, but one that’s increasingly common now that tourism is banned and millions of people in and around the French capital are confined at home.
Some 150 monitoring stations around the Ile-de-France — the name given to Paris and its suburbs — have recorded an “unusual silence” since the virus prevention lockdown officially began March 17.
The agency that measures sound pollution in the region, Bruitparif, released before-and-after maps Thursday showing the drop in decibels.
It’s especially notable around Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports, thanks to the grounding of most flights. And alongside highways, whose traffic has slowed to a trickle as workers stay home. And around neighborhoods packed with night clubs, which are now shuttered to keep people at a safe social distance and keep the virus at bay.
Bruitparif noted a “very sharp drop in noise emissions of anthropogenic origin” — related to human activity — caused by a “drastic reduction in road, air and even rail traffic, the suspension of construction sites and the closure of many activities and festive places.”
French authorities are struggling to slow the spread of the virus, which has claimed more than 1,300 lives around France and prompted confinement measures that are threatening jobs and pummeling the economy.
But they have also reduced air and sound pollution in one of Europe’s most densely populated cities.
The maps show that even in the center of Paris, the decibel levels are down to what you’d normally see in suburban parkland. Some streets saw a 90% drop in sound levels over the past week. And Bruitparif says zones considered as facing “excessive noise have practically disappeared, notably at night.”
Still, there is one sound that Parisians are hearing a lot more of lately: Birdsong.

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Malaysia palace staff affected by COVID-19

The city center of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is seen empty Wednesday, March 25, 2020. (AP)
Updated 28 March 2020

Malaysia palace staff affected by COVID-19

  • Since early March, Queen Tunku Azizah — a well-known epicure — has been cooking and packing meals for frontline healthcare workers in several hospitals in Kuala Lumpur

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s king and queen went into self-imposed quarantine in their palace on Thursday after nine of their palace staff tested positive for the coronavirus disease COVID-19.
Queen Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah took to Instagram to ask people to pray for her and King Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah.
“Please pray for us!” the queen wrote. “There are only me and my family along with three other staff in the palace. No one is allowed to leave the room, and no visitors are allowed in. Ya Allah, please save Malaysia!”
The queen said she had been “in close contact” with all nine infected staff members, although both monarchs had earlier tested negative for COVID-19.
It is unclear how the nine staff members caught the virus, but the queen said on Instagram that all but three of the palace staff would immediately be quarantined in a hotel, where they will go through the procedures set by the Health Department.
“Each one will have to go through the disinfection process before they board the bus. Their belongings will also go through the disinfection process,” the queen said.

She added that all of them would have to change into new clothes provided by the Health Department.
She added that the staff would be separated into three groups — those who had tested negative, those who are awaiting their test results, and those who “already have symptoms” — who would travel from the palace on three separate buses.
Since early March, Queen Tunku Azizah — a well-known epicure — has been cooking and packing meals for frontline healthcare workers in several hospitals in Kuala Lumpur.
The popular 59-year-old queen is known for her frankness and people-centric approach on social media. She has also been sharing recipes and photos of local dishes and cakes with the public.
“Today’s dishes that will be sent to the Sungai Buloh Hospital and the Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre are chicken curry with tempoyak (fermented durian), vegetable stir-fry and salted egg”, she posted on Tuesday.
The Malaysian healthcare system is under increasing pressure as the number of COVID-19 cases rises. As of 5 p.m. on Friday, Malaysia has confirmed a total of 2,161 cases and 26 deaths.
The government declared 11 districts as “red zones” — areas with high risk of infection — on Friday, and implemented a full lockdown in parts of Johor state.