Police Drones Are Issuing Coronavirus Commands in China

By Ryan Gandolfo, February 3, 2020

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If you hear an authoritative voice telling you to put on a mask while you’re out in public, it might be coming from a drone.

Recent clips of drone footage in China have surfaced online that show unmanned aircrafts serving as a loudspeaker for Chinese authorities to scold residents for not wearing a protective mask while out and about. The latest ‘educational’ method to keep people safe comes as the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) continues to spread throughout the country and abroad.

Image via @魅力虞城/Weibo

State-run newspaper Global Times reports that drone warnings are being used in rural areas to prevent people from gathering without their masks, as well as engaging in traditional street-side games such as mahjong. “Playing mahjong outside is banned during the epidemic. You have been spotted. Stop playing and leave the site as soon as possible,” said one officer in a town in Chengdu observing a group of mahjong players through the drone’s camera, as cited by Global Times.

READ MORE: 7 Interesting Things to Know About China’s Coronavirus Outbreak

Some Chinese media have viewed the use of drones to educate residents about the spread of the coronavirus as “creative” and “innovative.” One thing we can say for sure – it appears to be effective, as most videos we’ve seen either show people putting on their masks or heading off after a subtle tongue-lashing by authorities ‘from above.’

Watch the video below to see officers give one resident an earful on staying safe amid the epidemic (VPN off):

Popular Chinese drone maker DJI took to Weibo in late January to tell folks: “No matter where you are, [we are] here to remind everyone that during this unusual time every one of us needs to be well-guarded…”

People online have expressed their amusement regarding the Chinese authority’s unique method to educate the masses, with one Weibo user posting, “This epidemic is both a severe and sad matter, but some of these videos really allow people to understand, I can’t help but laugh at these drone videos, they’re really lively.”

Has a drone recently told you to stop playing mahjong or put on a mask? If so, we’d love to hear the story in the comments section below.

READ MORE: Find Out if You've Traveled With a Coronavirus Patient

[Cover image: screengrab via QQ]

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