China’s largest ride-hailing platform Didi Chuxing announced on Thursday that the company will still provide limited ride-hailing services to residents inside Wuhan, the capital of Central China’s Hubei province, after public transport in and out of the city has been shut down from today to try to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
However, Didi called on locals to refrain from using its services with the exception of “those in greatest need”. The company added that it is also gathering several emergency fleets made up of volunteering drivers to be dispatched by Wuhan anti-epidemic authorities, without providing further information.
Didi also said that it has stopped all other services, including carpooling, hitchhiking, and private rides between other cities and Wuhan, where the virus was first detected.
Wuhan government announced at 2:00 a.m. on Thursday that all outbound transportation, including rail and air travel, would be shut down as of 10:00 am, along with intra-city public transits including buses, ferries, and subways, after the virus claimed 17 lives in Hubei. The new virus, a cousin of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus, has spread rapidly and reportedly infected 571 individuals with pneumonia in 25 provinces and municipalities in China as of Wednesday.
SF Express, China’s largest private courier, said on Thursday that the company would guarantee the transportation of special goods to Wuhan, without stating what these products are. Currently, medical items including masks and hand sanitizers are in short supply in Wuhan, while Alibaba announced that it has only 46.1 million masks in stock.
The courier added that the company will still provide parcel delivery services inside Wuhan, on the condition that its clients put the outbound parcels in special smart lockers by Hive Box, or in SF’s own brick-and-mortar stations, to lower the infection risk. SF’s Wuhan clients also need to collect parcels via these channels.
E-commerce platform JD.com said its self-owned-and-operated courier services will operate in Wuhan during the holiday, from Jan. 25 to Jan. 30, but added it would fulfill orders from medical institutions first.
China’s smartphone vendor Xiaomi stated that it would shut down its brick-and-mortar stores in Wuhan, and will stop the delivery of large electric appliances ordered on its e-commerce platform. However, the company will still deliver smaller goods ordered online to residents in the city, by teaming up with logistics partners.
All these companies have promised to provide the necessary protection, including face masks and hand sanitizers, to their employees or partners working in Wuhan.