A crowd of people wearing protective masks at Shinagawa station


2020 © Reuters / Athit Perawongmetha


The main route of transmission of the microbial agent responsible for Covid-19 is direct interpersonal contact and saliva droplets in particular. The most important means of combating the spread of the virus is therefore face masks, together with the so-called social distancing.
Faced with the image of the crowded station in Tokyo (one of the world’s most populous metropolises), we cannot therefore help wondering about the progressive overcrowding of large cities we have been witnessing since the beginning of the industrial revolution. While in the 1800s, 3% of the global population lived in urban areas, today more than 50% live in cities. And more and more people are leaving rural areas and congregating in metropolises, appealing for the wide range of services available and numerous job opportunities.
This naturally has repercussions on both physical and psychological well-being. For example, it seems evident that overcrowding and noise and light pollution are associated with greater mental distress and that the fragmentation of social communities is one of the detrimental aspects of life in large cities. Air pollution is generally thought to be the biggest physical health problem, but another major danger is now there for all to see: densely populated areas are a breeding ground for the emergence and spread of new infectious diseases.

Nicolò Berdin