Didi Chuxing puts plastic dividers in cars to help stop the spread of coronavirus

The ride-hailing giant plans to invest about 100mil yuan (RM59.58mil) in the nationwide programme. — SCMP

Didi Chuxing, China’s largest ride-hailing services provider, is ramping up efforts to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus, with a nationwide programme to install protective dividers between the driver and passenger seats in cars.

Beijing-based Didi plans to invest about 100mil yuan (RM59.58mil) in this safety measure, which involves installing protective plastic sheets that are expected to prevent droplet transmission of the Covid-19 disease, according to the company’s statement on Feb 19.

“Didi is implementing this and other anti-coronavirus initiatives, as public health officials call on citizens to use public transportation with caution,” the company said. “This measure is popular among drivers and riders.”

Despite aversion to using mass public transport such as buses and trains at the present time, even ride-hailing is facing new problems after reports earlier this month of multiple drivers being diagnosed with coronavirus, clouding prospects for an industry already hit hard by government-imposed travel restrictions across the country.

With guidance from medical professionals, Didi hs initially rolled out its protective divider programme in a number of cities, including the southern coastal city of Shenzhen, Taiyuan in northern Shanxi province and in Wuhan, capital of central China’s Hubei province and epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak.

A staff member of Didi Chuxing teaches drivers how to use a spray bottle to disinfect their cars in Nanjing, in eastern China's Jiangsu province, on February 14. Photo: Xinhua

Didi drivers can choose to install the protective screens in selected locations or on their own using the instructions provided.

A spokesman for Didi Chuxing declined to comment on the total number of cars under the ride-hailing platform, but said the company supported 30 million drivers as of 2018.

Didi’s expanded safety measures have come amid industry difficulties in China, the world’s biggest ride-hailing market, where the coronavirus outbreak has led to a slowdown in demand.

There were more than 74,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 2,000 fatalities across mainland China as of Wednesday morning, according to data released by national and provincial health authorities.

Didi has already set up service stations for sterilising cars, monitoring the temperature of drivers and distributing free facial masks in more than 148 cities across the country.

Other technology companies have also stepped up their own precautionary measures to help stop the coronavirus from spreading.

Food delivery giant Meituan Dianping and Dida Chuxing, a rival of industry leader Didi, have each launched app-based systems that require commuters to provide their personal information by scanning QR codes. The data gathered details where people have been to determine if they have travelled with a person confirmed or suspected to have the coronavirus.

“To install sheets may appear to be a silly way [to protect passengers and drivers in cars], but Didi would like to try every method to win the battle against the epidemic,” Didi said in a separate statement posted on its WeChat account. – South China Morning Post

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