The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases released this scanning electron microscope image of the virus.

Government Uses Payment Platforms, Tracker Tech to Tag Infected

With the aid of private and Chinese-run tech companies, the country is using a variety of ways to track travel within the country and flag potentially ill people to force them to stay quarantined, according to a story on

Despite a late start in addressing the Coronavirus, now called COVID-19, after the lunar New Year, China has decided to use all of the technologies available in its country to help track and control people who may be infected. The virus has spread rapidly outside of China, according to The New York Times, and shows no signs of slowing down.

QR codes are being used by Alipay, the world’s largest payment platform, and at travel checkpoints to track Chinese citizens’ movements. In addition, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology launched a service with three state-run telecommunications firms – China Telecom, China Unicom and China Mobile – to let users to request their location data from the prior 14 days by text message.

In trying to track down potentially infected people, China is using the Close Contact Detector mobile app, developed by the state-owned China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC), which analyzes data from all national health, aviation and transportation sources.

“The system flags people who have sat within three rows of each other on a plane or in the same air-conditioned train compartment,” the New Scientist story says. “In the first two days after it was introduced, the app was used 100 million times and detected more than 70,000 close contacts who could have coronavirus, according to the CETC.”

The lack of privacy doesn’t concern Chinese officials during this crisis. It even appears to approve of tactics used by the city of Hangzhou, which has detained or fined nine people for lying about their travel and medical history since the outbreak. In fact, the virus could make matters worse for Chinese citizens. Surveillance through cameras and facial recognition may only grow in response, according to a story on, which says the country is even using drones to track people and warn them not to be out in public without wearing a mask.