Users post coronavirus news on China's TikTok from quarantined city of Wuhan
Short video apps like ByteDance's Douyin and Kuaishou are giving people a glimpse of what's happening on the ground in Wuhan
As Chinese authorities have put Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province, in quarantine on Thursday due to the coronavirus, asking residents to remain in the city, and shutting down public transportation in and out from the metropolis, short-video apps like Douyin and Kuaishou have become one of the most important channels for outsiders to know what’s happening on the ground.
On ByteDance’s Douyin, the platform with 400 million daily active users, topics related to Wuhan are among the most searched items, among them the keywords “scientist Zhong Nanshan,” a key figure in China’s response to the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) crisis in 2003, or “Wuhan’s lockdown.”
Douyin also offers a live-update section recording the number of infected patients, based on official announcements. So far, 633 people have contracted the virus according to the latest figures, and 17 patients have died. The app also shows a geographical map with the reported cases.
On Tencent-backed Kuaishou, which has around 300 million daily users, topics on the “hot list” are all virus-related, including “Chunyun under the coronavirus outbreak.” Chunyun refers to the Lunar New Year rush when Chinese people head home to celebrate with their families, also known for being the largest annual human migration in the world.
News clips, latest announcements, and recorded videos about citizens buying groceries, masks, or showing support to the medical staff, are filling the platform. Most of these news clips are from state-owned media outlets and state-approved sources, like People’s Daily, Hubei Daily, and China Central Television (CCTV).
A short video uploaded yesterday on Kuaishou by an account owned by media outlet Beijing News, shows the interiors of the Wuhan No.7 hospital, which is now under quarantine, only accepting patients displaying symptoms related to the virus. Another video, uploaded on Jan. 23, reveals the moment when the Wuhan’s train station was getting closed, with safeguards standing in front of the entrance.
Other content shot by Wuhan’s residents and shared in Douyin shows how citizens are increasingly wearing masks to protect from the virus, or deserted shopping malls in the city center.