The coronavirus has currently affected 28 territories around the world but is concentrated in mainland China. The country accounts for 42,638 confirmed cases out of the 43,104 global ones, and 1,016 deaths out of the total of 1,018.

However, numbers don't necessarily paint a good picture of how the epidemic has changed the country. Photos do. And visual storyteller Nicoco shared a personal project that achieves just that.

One Person City is a photo series that documents Shanghai during the coronavirus outbreak. It does an excellent job of revealing the ghostly emptiness, isolation, and fear that the virus has inflicted on the 24-million-people metropolis, giving us a better understanding of what the locals are actually going through.

More info: nicoco.co | Instagram

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Bridget
Community Member
2 weeks ago

I am truly praying for each and every family there!

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"One Person City began as a curiosity to see how a sleepless, major international city would react to uncertainty," Nicoco told Bored Panda. "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. 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."

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Water Bottle
Community Member
2 weeks ago

The leading lines enrich the photo

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At first, Nicoco didn't know what to expect. Eventually, the photographer found emptiness filled with fear. "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. 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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Phoebe Bean
Community Member
2 weeks ago

It looks like the spectator is isolated and watching through a hospital window....

All of this is really different from what Nicoco had experienced before. "I've been living in Shanghai for about six years. It is an amazing city where you see elders in tracksuits doing synchronized dancing, feel safe running late at night as a woman, and can access much of East Asia and Southeast Asia. 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. 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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Molly Block
Community Member
2 weeks ago

I get chill bumps looking at these empty photographs. I'd love to be there, under different circumstances, though which, I have no idea... It must have a dystopian feel about it....being all alone in a huge city! It's quite exciting, actually, until you start to think about why no one is out and about...

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"The virus has robbed Chinese people from what should be the happiest time of year," Nicoco said. "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. 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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Phoebe Bean
Community Member
2 weeks ago

Eerie feeling....

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According to Nicoco, for the past two weeks, everything has stopped. "The government extended the national holiday, and only critical businesses are allowed to open (for example, grocery stores, sanitation and water facilities, etc.). 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."

Working on the series made Nicoco think about class privilege a lot. "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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Palo Aalto
Community Member
2 weeks ago (edited)

Machines stop, pollution stops. Is this nature's intervention?

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However, there were moments of levity as well. "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."

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Awkward Manatee
Community Member
2 weeks ago

wow

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Justin Haggerty
Community Member
2 weeks ago

Poor guy

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Zoe's Mom
Community Member
2 weeks ago

Why..What is there to clean?

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satan hears a scream
Community Member
2 weeks ago

and all of those buildings are empty or close to empty ... mind boggling

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BRIGITTE ONSERIO
Community Member
2 weeks ago

i have been to shanghai for a school field trip and it was soooo crowed now there is barley anyone there

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Zintoki
Community Member
2 weeks ago

I think it's pretty safe to be outside, when there are no other people.

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Tia Hansen
Community Member
2 weeks ago

That’s a nice view. I would love to go there once all of this blows over! Hopefully.

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Harry Larter
Community Member
2 weeks ago

This place is like a ghost town now

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Heaven Scott
Community Member
2 weeks ago

just to think that these places are normally packed....

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Marlene Ricker
Community Member
1 week ago

The roads look so strange with a total lack of cars.

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nanashi
Community Member
2 weeks ago

it's so sad seeing these lovely new year decorations but no one to appreciate them

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Molly Block
Community Member
2 weeks ago

That building on the right looks like it is leaning. An illusion??

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Phoebe Bean
Community Member
2 weeks ago

Chanel store open or some invisible fence I don´t see? Weird...

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Jodi
Community Member
2 weeks ago

With no one around to take that Instagram photo of you, you have to try something different.

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#23

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BRIGITTE ONSERIO
Community Member
2 weeks ago

i would be scared if i was alone and all by myself...i feel bad

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analpaca
Community Member
2 weeks ago

I reckon that cleaners job has been a lot easier lately.

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Phoebe Bean
Community Member
2 weeks ago

"Happy" New year...

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Molly Block
Community Member
2 weeks ago

What are those? For the subway?

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Marcia Geiger
Community Member
1 week ago

Does anyone else see the irony in how clear the air is in these images? I am sad for people who need to earn livings, and products that are either unavailable, or going to waste because no one is going out to buy them, but the virus that is keeping people inside is also keeping vehicles and factories on stand by, leaving the air a lot cleaner. Less pollutants in the air is good news for the people sickened by the virus!

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John W
Community Member
2 weeks ago

It's like 28 Days Later.

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