The world’s most populous country is currently battling to contain a lethal coronavirus similar to the SARs epidemic that originated in China in 2002. China has already reported 830 cases of the coronavirus and 26 deaths so far. The government has placed 13 cities under effective lockdown with transport restrictions, putting nearly 41 million under virtual quarantine. The city of Wuhan, the place where the coronavirus originated, is in a state of severe lockdown with all major flights and transport vehicles going in and out of the city suspended for the foreseeable future. While things are tense in China right now, tech companies from different parts of China are coming in to offer help.
Companies like Xiaomi, Meizu, WeChat, Douyin (Chinese TikTok), and even Baidu have all taken efforts to educate and help combat the new virus in China.
So let’s take a quick look at how tech companies in China are helping to fight the spread of the lethal coronavirus.
Xiaomi is shipping out N95 masks, medical masks, and thermometers worth 300K yuan (~$43.2K) to Wuhan’s epidemic control and prevention headquarters. The first batch was shipped out from various centers last night and will arrive in Wuhan tonight. The company added on its Weibo platform that they are monitoring the epidemic’s status and will continue to allocate supplies to help out the city in this time of crisis.
China’s biggest online retailers like Jd.com, Taobao, Suning have all announced that they would freeze the prices of essential medical items such as masks and disinfectants on their platforms. Ever since the news about the outbreak of the virus, the prices for these essential items had shot up. However, the retailers have agreed to intervene and provide these medical supplies at reasonable rates. Moreover, Jd.com has also announced that it will donate 1 million masks and 60,000 medical supplies to Wuhan, in batches.
China’s aviation regulator has announced passengers can get free refunds for flight tickets booked before Jan. 24, 2020, across all airlines and ticket sales agencies in China. Multiple airlines like Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Airlines, and Qantas Airways are offering free cancellations for tickets booked to or from mainland China till the end of February. You can read more about airline refund announcements from this Reuters article.
China’s TikTok – Douyin has a dedicated page that informs users about the coronavirus and its current status. The app also added a special ‘Jiayou video effect‘ to offer support to the medical staff and patients fighting the virus in Wuhan.
Online movie ticketing platforms like Taopiaopiao and Maoyan are offering unconditional refunds for tickets booked between January 22 and the first week of February in the city of Wuhan.
Moreover, six potential blockbuster hit movies, which were scheduled to release in theaters this weekend, have been postponed. In fact, in a surprising move, one of the most anticipated movies in China this year, ‘Lost in Russia’ or ‘Awkward Mother’ (Chinese translation), is now premiering online for FREE! The film will be made available to watch at midnight today in China via the movie studio’s in-house streaming platform.
Popular food delivery apps like Meituan Dianping and Ele.me in China have promised to continue operations as usual during this period. To combat the spread of the coronavirus, they have announced precautionary measures such as masks and body temperature monitoring of its delivery drivers. These platforms have also reportedly stopped delivering to hospitals.
China’s most popular messaging app, WeChat, has a special ‘Fever Clinic’ Map that shows you where you can go for a check-up in over 14 cities in China. Some popular cities like Shanghai and Chengdu have over 100 listed clinics on the platform.
Baidu has a dedicated anti-pneumonia page on its app that is updated with relevant coronavirus related news in real-time. The Baidu Maps app also shows you ‘Fever Clinics’ (similar to WeChat). But one of the best features of the Baidu Maps is the thermal heat map giving you a view of the busy streets in your area, in real-time. It’s an excellent way to identify crowded streets to avoid them.
In a country like China, that’s obsessed with apps and social media; it’s good to see tech companies coming forward to educate people to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pneumonia. With over 830 cases reported so far, it remains to be seen whether China can contain this new coronavirus before it becomes as widespread as the SARs epidemic.
This content was originally published here.