Drones take to China’s skies to fight coronavirus outbreak

In coronavirus-hit China, not wearing a face mask is a big no-no. Now, drones equipped with loudspeakers are out admonishing those who fail to follow public-health safety practices.

On microblogging platform Weibo, a video posted by Zhejiang News’s broadcasting channel shows a drone take off and scan the ground below for violators.

In one scene, it identifies an elderly woman who isn’t wearing a face mask. “Can’t you see? I’m talking about you. Put your face mask on and go home right away,” a polite but firm voice from the drone says. The woman seems confused at first, repeatedly glancing up at the hovering machine, then she puts on her mask and scurries back to her apartment building.

Footage posted by Global Times shows people in rural China publicly shamed by a drone for not wearing a face mask or for venturing outside unnecessarily. It’s unclear who created the segments.

“Isn’t it comfortable to stay at home, with food and drinks?” a voice asks a farmer out in the fields in Inner Mongolia. “You didn’t even wear a mask.” The farmer smiles, to which the drone responds that it’s not funny, adding: “Don’t come outside if not necessary.”

Drones are being pressed into service as China looks to stem the spread of the coronavirus, which has infected more than 20,000 across the world’s most populous nation.