‘Sharp-tongued drones’ chastise Chinese residents for not wearing face masks amid coronavirus outbreak

'Do not go here and there in the open air without wearing a mask. Go back home quickly and wash your hands,' says drone

Kate Ng
Friday 31 January 2020 17:27 GMT
Residents chastised by talking drones for not wearing face masks amid coronavirus outbreak.mp4

Drones are reportedly being used in some villages and cities in China to remind residents to wear face masks if they have to be outside, as the country tries to get a grip on the coronavirus outbreak.

According to local media, authorities and other vigilant individuals have deployed drones with audio capabilities to patrol certain areas.

Traffic police in Muyang, a small city near a major port in the Liaoning province, reportedly flew the model aircraft around pedestrian areas to give orders to people not wearing face masks.

Footage from the drone shared on social media showed people being singled out on the street and being asked: “Where is your mask? Wear your mask!”

Elsewhere, footage reportedly recorded by a wedding photographer in inner Mongolia showed a drone approaching an elderly woman.

The photographer, Guo Junjie, spoke to her using the drone's speakers and said: “Granny, stop staring at [the drone]. It is our village’s drone. Do not go here and there in the open air without wearing a mask. Go back home quickly and wash your hands.”

The elderly woman smiled and laughed at the drone in the beginning, but her face turns serious as it scolds her and she walks away quickly.

In yet another video, a young girl is spotted by a drone walking outside her home without a mask. The person controlling the drone flies it nearer and said: "Hey kid! We are in unusual times! Don't stroll around outside, you're not even wearing a mask! Hurry and go back home!"

The girl nods and hurries back to her home nearby, and the drone continues: "The coronavirus is very serious. Run!"

State-owned English language newspaper, Global Times, said in a tweet: “Walking around without a protective face mark? Well, you can’t avoid these sharp-tongued drones!”

Social media users were both amused and unnerved by the use of drones to keep an eye on residents, with some calling it “Orwellian”.

But others saw it as a useful tool to keep the public in check during the outbreak, which has so far killed over 200 people and infected nearly 10,000 people in China alone.

One person said: “This is a way of controlling the spread of the virus. It’s not violent, and it’s not surveillance that the subject is unaware of. You can see the drone. It’s literally a public health measure.”

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in