Chinese takeaway sector braces after deliveryman confirmed with COVID-19

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/6/23 21:31:51

A food delivery driver rides in Jiangbei District in Chongqing, southwest China, July 28, 2017. A red alert for high temperatures was issued by Chongqing meteorological observatory on Friday, as some areas saw temperatures surpass 40 degrees Celsius. Photo: Xinhua

China's takeaway industry might need to brace for a new wave of concern with one deliveryman confirmed as being infected with COVID-19, a case that was announced on Tuesday by Beijing's health authorities. 

The deliveryman, employed by China's takeaway delivery platform, was confirmed to be infected on Sunday. The man delivered about 50 orders per day from June 1-17 across the city, according to the health authorities. is now conducting COVID-19 nucleic acid tests on its entire delivery staff, and those who had close contact with the man have been put under quarantine, the company told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

However, the takeaway business is still bracing for a new hit, despite having barely recovered from the recent plunge in revenue during the prolonged quarantine earlier this year. 

"He delivered more than 500 orders to 500 people in the 10 days before he was confirmed," read one popular comment on Weibo. "It is scary to think about all the people who he contacted in restaurants and residential compounds."

Although the coronavirus usually transmits through human-to-human contact, it could survive up for 72 hours on the surfaces of a variety of materials, such as plastic and steel. It can also stay alive for up to 24 hours on cardboard, according to the World Health Organization. 

"I don't think that I will order takeaway any time soon," a regular Eleme customer surnamed Li told the Global Times.  "Knowing that the people handing me the food might be carrying the virus just sounds too risky to me."

The takeaway business took a heavy hit from the COVID-19 pandemic. From January to March, revenue for dropped 8 percent year-on-year. Meituan, another industry leader and China's third most valuable publicly listed technology company, saw its revenue plunge more than 11 percent due to COVID-19's impact on the catering industry. 

As of early June, more than 1.2 million couriers had been employed by since late January. Takeaway platforms have introduced many precautionary measures to minimize the risk of transmitting the virus, including "no-touch" delivery, meaning the process is without any physical contact with the delivery staff.  

Other companies, including Meituan, provide options such as giving couriers a health card showing details, including body temperatures. 

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