Coronavirus: UAE reports cleaner air with 30 pct reduction in nitrogen dioxide

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The United Arab Emirates reported a noticeable drop in air pollutant levels between February and April, recording a 30 percent decline in the levels of nitrogen dioxide due to transport restrictions during the coronavirus lockdown it imposed.

“The Ministry closely monitors air quality in the country through its 52 stations and AI lab. Due to the slowdown of all activities as part of the response to the pandemic, the world is seeing a considerable reduction in air pollution,” said Aisha al-Abdooli, Director of the Green Development and Environment Affairs Department at the UAE’s Ministry of Climate Change and Environment.

The UAE imposed traffic restrictions when it shut down public transport and restricted public movement during the course of the country’s national sterilization program which began near the end of March.

According to the ministry’s readings, air quality in the UAE saw a noticeable improvement compared to levels in 2019. Last year, the country experienced 81 percent green days – days when the concentration of air pollutants is low and air quality is good – compared to 71 percent in 2018.

“The UAE has witnessed a drop in the concentration of nitrogen dioxide, which is released into the air by vehicles. The decline varied between different areas, ranging from 10 percent to 71 percent. Overall, the average reduction across the country between February 1 and April 30, 2020, amounted to 30 percent,” al-Abdooli said.

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Earlier this month, authorities said air quality in Abu Dhabi had improved during the government-imposed restrictions on movement and traffic aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the emirate’s Environment Agency.

Impact of COVID-19 measures on air quality in the UAE. (Photo via WAM news agency)
Impact of COVID-19 measures on air quality in the UAE. (Photo via WAM news agency)

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The United Arab Emirates announced that 30 percent of employees in federal ministries, authorities, and institutions will return to their work starting May 31, adding that the capacity will gradually increase later on as the country eases coronavirus restrictions.

Authorities on Wednesday confirmed two more deaths as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus and 883 new cases of infections detected, raising the total number of cases so far to 31,969.

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