China’s deployment of improved face recognition in Ruili to monitor the outbreak surprised the foreign media

A small Chinese city on the border with Myanmar, Ruili, is now using facial recognition cameras to monitor the movement of residents and try to stamp out even small outbreaks of the New Coronavirus. Chinese authorities have never before officially reported the use of facial recognition cameras specifically to combat the spread of the new pneumonia epidemic.

With surveillance cameras already ubiquitous in public places in China, the country’s metropolis is shown to be safe and physical violence against people is uncommon, according to AFP.

New technology is now also being used extensively in the fight against the new coronavirus, which includes the widespread use of mobile apps to track movements since the early 2020s.

But authorities have never before officially reported the use of facial recognition cameras specifically to fight the spread of that New Coronavirus epidemic.

Such facial recognition technology has now been deployed in Ruili, a city on the border with Myanmar, where some 60 local patients have been identified in the past 10 days, including several infected with an Indian variant of the virus. Among these cases are many Burmese, despite the fact that the border with Myanmar is theoretically closed. The situation is worrisome to Chinese authorities, as Myanmar is one of the countries in the world where the outbreak has accelerated in recent weeks.

Myanmar has also been plagued by serious unrest since the Feb. 1 military coup. That could lead Burmese to cross the border to escape the fighting.

Chinese authorities said Saturday that with the new device, anyone trying to enter or leave residential areas, supermarkets, markets and any other busy areas in Ruili will have their faces scanned by cameras. The data is linked to a unique QR code that can automatically monitor a person’s movements. The facial recognition devices are also capable of measuring an individual’s body temperature, according to CNR, the official Chinese broadcaster.

The system is managed by the local municipality, the source said. Ruili has had three outbreaks since the outbreak began, which were quickly brought under control.

As the first country to face the New Coronavirus at the end of 2019, China has virtually eliminated the disease from its territory since the spring of 2020 and life has largely returned to normal, AFP said. In particular, mass screening, strict confinement or mandatory quarantine of all those coming from abroad has contributed to the successful control of the outbreak.

China today reported 29 new cases, 27 of which were “imported from abroad”, people who came from abroad and were placed in isolation quarantine in hospitals.