Chinese on-demand service provider Ele.me takes urgent action after courier tests positive for Covid-19
- The 47-year-old Ele.me courier, who worked a shift from 7am to 9pm delivering about 50 orders per day, was confirmed with Covid-19 on Sunday
- The food delivery business in China took a hit in the first quarter, with monthly active users down 6 per cent to about 350 million from the same period last year
Chinese food delivery service giant Ele.me said all of its couriers in Beijing are being tested for Covid-19 after one was confirmed positive this week, resulting in one of the platform’s fresh food partners closing a warehouse and withdrawing its service from the on-demand app.
The 47-year-old Ele.me courier, who worked a shift from 7am to 9pm delivering about 50 orders per day, was confirmed with Covid-19 on Sunday, according to the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.
Last week the courier handled orders from a warehouse operated by Missfresh, a start-up that delivers fresh produce. Subsequently, the Beijing-based platform announced it had withdrawn the company’s service from the Ele.me app. The warehouse has been shut down and will be disinfected, while the stock inside has been sealed and will be tested for the virus.
“All the staff working at the warehouse will be put under quarantine immediately and we have arranged for them to receive nucleic acid testing,” said a Missfresh spokeswoman, adding that the company is working closely working with the CCDC.
In a statement on its official Weibo account on Tuesday, Alibaba-owned Ele.me said the company is arranging for all its couriers in Beijing to be tested for coronavirus and that colleagues who had close contact with with the courier who was confirmed with the virus are under quarantine.
“Every new courier in Beijing will be tested for coronavirus before receiving orders and making deliveries,” Ele.me said in the post, adding that the platform will “continue to actively cooperate with relevant departments” and “has reported to authorities the courier’s routes over the past 20 days”.
The food delivery business in China, one of the biggest on-demand industries in the world, took a hit from the pandemic in the first quarter, with monthly active users down 6 per cent to about 350 million from the same period last year, according to a Trustdata report published earlier this month.
Delivery service providers, including Ele.me rival Meituan Dianping, and ride-sharing companies like Didi Chuxing have said their front line workers in Beijing are receiving nucleic acid tests for Covid-19 to eliminate consumer concerns as the nation’s capital returns to a partial lockdown in the wake of a second wave of coronavirus infections.
Beijing has embarked on a vast testing programme for people who might have come into contact with the pathogen at the Xinfadi wholesale food market, where most of the cases have been sourced to. On Sunday, the municipal health bureau said it had more than doubled its testing capacity to 1 million people a day.
Alibaba is the parent company of the South China Morning Post.