Meituan, operator of China’s largest on-demand service platform, launched urgent deliveries and other new services in Shanghai for citizens in need, as the city set a daily record for Covid-19 infections on Thursday despite an extended lockdown. Executives from the company made the announcement during a rare appearance at a government briefing, along with Shanghai officials and medical personnel. “As a hi-tech internet retail firm based in Shanghai, we are taking multiple measures to provide residents with food supplies,” said Meituan vice-president Mao Fang. The company has introduced urgent deliveries to the districts of Yangpu, Songjiang, Baoshan, Xuhui and Putuo, with services to be rolled out to the remaining districts in due course, Mao said. A shortage in food supply has become one of the most pressing issues for people living in Shanghai since the city of 25 million entered into a two-phase lockdown on March 28 with no end in sight. While the city has received donations of fresh produce from across the country, many residents still reported difficulties in getting their hands on groceries and other daily necessities. Some people have resorted to setting alarm clocks for the early morning to place orders right after online platforms restock, but soaring demand has repeatedly crashed websites and apps, according to local media reports. Meituan has faced challenges in sorting goods and delivering the escalating orders on time, Mao said. “As wet markets cannot operate as normal, we are seeing a marked decrease in the resource allocation capabilities of e-commerce platforms,” said Shanghai Vice-Mayor Chen Tong. Meituan has moved more than 1,000 sorting workers to Shanghai from across China, with plans to further expand the team, Mao said. The company has also deployed autonomous delivery vehicles to pilot zones in Kangqiao, east of the Huangpu River, to help volunteers with last-mile deliveries. From Thursday, the vehicles would also be put to use at Shanghai Ruijin Hospital and Fudan University. Shanghai residents use phones, group buying to source groceries amid lockdown The company also added a group meal service last week that now covers over 4,500 communities and 5 million residents, Mao said. On Sunday, the first day of the three-day Ching Ming Festival holiday, Meituan launched an urgent helper service to assist senior citizens, pregnant women, disabled people and other customers in need to buy medicine, groceries, and mother and infant products. By Wednesday, Meituan had received around 20,000 requests for the new service, with around 60 per cent related to infants and children, and 20 per cent to the elderly, Mao said. Around 34 per cent of the requests were resolved. Similar services can also be found on other e-commerce platforms, such as Ele.me, and online channels of large supermarket chains, including Yonghui, Chen said. Ele.me is China’s second-largest player in the on-demand market and is owned by Alibaba Group Holding, parent of the South China Morning Post . Alert raised in e-commerce hub Hangzhou over Covid-19-infected travellers from Shanghai A total of 26 food delivery companies are currently serving Shanghai, including Ele.me and Meituan, which collectively hired around 100,000 delivery people in the city before the outbreak, according to the Shanghai Observer . While larger supermarket chains such as Shanghai-listed Yonghui and Hong Kong’s City’super have their own apps or mini programs, smaller retailers mostly run their online businesses on platforms created by tech giants. Shanghai reported 19,982 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, most of which were asymptomatic .