Rather than risking coronavirus infection, officials in rural China are literally watching over citizens, using drones to deter outdoor gatherings amid an epidemic that has already killed 361 people in the country.
A video clip posted on Weibo, a microblogging website akin to Twitter, showed people playing Mahjong in a village near Chengdu told to disperse after being spotted by a camera on a patrolling drone.
“Playing mahjong outside is banned during the epidemic. You have been spotted. Stop playing and leave the site as soon as possible,” an official orders villagers via microphone while watching footage sent to his screen. “Don’t look at the drone, child; ask your father to leave immediately,” the official tells a boy looking curiously at the drone.
Regardless of the severe health scare, Chinese netizens on Weibo were amused by the clip, which quickly went viral.
“So hardcore! High-tech makes life more efficient,” said one Weibo-user.
The Chinese government is calling on people to stay at home and avoid gathering to prevent the virus spreading. Shops, movie theatres and restaurants are closed in some places.
More than a dozen cities in Hubei, including provincial capital Wuhan where the virus first emerged, are in virtual lockdown.