Hubei province, also known as the ‘Epicenter’ of the Coronavirus epidemic, is now being closely observed by the Chinese authorities who are now taking a more high-tech approach in doing so. Citizens are now being tracked everywhere they go by sending text messages to a specific hotline, letting the officials know about their whereabouts.
In order to keep track of people exposed to the virus, China has now opted to use both technology and policing to observe movements of citizens who may or may not have visited Hubei province. There are three state-run telecommunications firms in which mobile phone users in China get their cell phone service from, and it has been announced that a new feature for subscribers has been added wherein citizens can now send messages to a hotline that can bring about a list of various provinces they have visited recently.
Chinese companies expressed uneasiness, and even uncomfortable with this newly implemented rule, fearing that sharing location data with local officials might get leaked or sold. The caution has been thrown by China Mobile, advising people to use the data cautiously as these only indicate where the phone has gone through and not the owner itself, with no difference between people who visited a province shortly, and those who spent a long period there.
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Taking a look at the technological side of this whole Coronavirus outbreak, tech companies can definitely feel the impact as some of them have been starting to close down various stores, offices, including factories all over China. Not to mention the restrictiveness each employee has been given from unnecessary in and out of the country travels. These are all expected to have a long-term effect, at least until Mar. 1, wherein province and district officials are advising companies not to open.
As these are all just temporary closures, major companies that have announced its shut down include Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, Tesla, and Google. Amazon has yet to announce office closures in several different parts of China, such as Beijing, Shenzhen, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. Facebook, not having any offices in China, has advised employees not to take unnecessary travels to the country.
Production shortages and launch delays have also been expected as factory workers for companies like Apple, are unlikely to resume work due to the outbreak and are now facing delays on multiple products such as iPhones and AirPods. Other major companies are in similar situations, including ASUS and Tesla. Chinese brands are also experiencing production delays like Oppo, Xiaomi, Lenovo, and Huawei. It is also known that some of these companies that rely on components from Hubei will most likely be the most affected by all these temporary shutdowns caused by the virus.
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With regards to the upcoming Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, multiple tech companies have also withdrawn their attendance. These are Sony, Amazon, Nvidia, LG Electronics, ZTE, and Ericsson, who all want to avoid potential risks with the Coronavirus outbreak is still ongoing, though while the World Health Organization has upgraded the virus’ status to a global health emergency, it is not recommended canceling the MWC.
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