Online services lend a hand to everyday life amid epidemic

Xinhua
 "The online mode backed by big data will be a new economy in the future, allowing people to solve various problems in their everyday life indoors."
Xinhua

While there were no diners at the hall, the kitchen of a famous restaurant in east China's Anhui Province was bustling, as chefs wearing masks were busy cooking and delivery staff were packing the meals quickly.

"Our restaurant remained closed due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. We established four WeChat groups for our customers and cooperated with the online food delivery platform Meituan Dianping to offer takeout service," said Fang Xiaoming, manager of the restaurant.

As businesses remain shuttered in many cities and people have been confined to their homes either by choice or order to curb the spread of the epidemic, online services backed by big data, artificial intelligence and modern logistics are lending a hand.

Lin Meng, a millennial living in Hefei, capital of Anhui, purchases all fresh food on the e-commerce platform Taobao.com. "The online supermarket has abundant products, and they can be delivered to your doorstep soon after you complete the payment," she said.

According to a report released by Meituan Dianping on February 19, the sales of various ingredients including vegetables, meat and seafood surged 200 percent month on month, while leafy vegetables were top-sellers with a total sale of over 8.1 million.

Cooped up at home amid the sudden outbreak, many Chinese are rolling up their sleeves and starting a new career in the kitchen. The report also showed that searches for baking materials rose 100 times recently on Meituan, with sales of yeast up nearly 40 times.

Thanks to online services, people are turning their living rooms and bedrooms into offices, classrooms and even museums and clinics, mitigating the pressure of the epidemic to some extent.

Wu Xiaomei, a Hefei-based primary school teacher, was busy with online teaching through WeChat, the popular messaging and social media app.

"Schools are adjusting online courses and teaching speed based on students' real conditions. Knowledge about epidemic prevention, extracurricular reading and physical exercises were also added into the teaching programs," she said.

Jointly launched by China's Ministry of Education and Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, a free online learning platform for primary and secondary school students has been launched on February 17, receiving over 23 million visits as of noon February 19.

Mukun Technology Co Ltd, a company focusing on smart campuses, said it had made full use of video conferences after its staff started to work online since January 25.

"By working from home, the operating costs including heating and electricity can be lowered by 30 percent," said Sun Shuhui, chairman of the company.

Alibaba's communication app DingTalk said it has served 200 million staff workers from more than 10 million enterprises and organizations as of February 3.

As of February 17, more than 35,000 doctors have offered free online services on WeDoctor, which provides online access to licensed doctors, and they received over 1.34 million consultations on the platform.

Various museums and galleries have launched or repackaged online exhibitions to provide a satisfactory touring experience for the country's vast number of stay-at-home visitors.

Chinese courts have also been mobilized to promote and improve online litigation services.

"The epidemic has boosted some online industries such as online healthcare, education and takeout," said Dong Yongdong, chairman of the GuoChuang Software Co Ltd. "The online mode backed by big data will be a new economy in the future, allowing people to solve various problems in their everyday life indoors."

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