The Lunar New Year brought with it for many the second anniversary of the moment life as we knew it was changed forever. It was two days before the holiday in 2020 that China was forced to lock down Wuhan – a city of 11 million people – following the detection of Covid-19, and even as case rates drop globally spikes caused by the subsequent variants continue to cause disruptions across the world.
Hong Kong has gone from a handful of Covid cases earlier this year to over 7,000 a day as the highly transmissible omicron variant has infiltrated the city’s tight border and quarantine defenses. The outbreak has seen the financial hub once again plunged into uncertainty as hospitals bear the burdens of mass testing and positive cases and supply chains endure new strains in the face of a potential lockdown.
As the city works tirelessly to fight the pandemic resurgence, JD.com has recently pledged to donate RMB 100 million yuan worth of anti-epidemic materials to medical works in Hong Kong. The e-commerce giant and technological innovator has been heavily involved in mitigating the effects of the coronavirus pandemic globally since it first began to take hold of the world in 2020, with its vast resources proving vital to the containment of the disease as well as aiding in the dissemination of pertinent information and minimizing the overall impact of the virus on peoples’ employment and livelihood.
JD.com is no stranger to the adverse effects a lockdown can have on a community and the businesses that serve it. The company was founded by Richard Liu in 1998, starting as a small temporary stall in a bazaar but quickly growing to become a chain of successful electronic stores across three major Chinese cities. However, in 2003 the SARS epidemic made its way through the country and Liu was forced to temporarily shutter all of his retail locations as people sheltered in place to prevent the spread of the highly contagious virus. Seeking a way to continue generating revenues, Liu began posting his products for sale to bulletin boards on the internet and eventually made the decision to move his business entirely online as a result.
Arranging the donations through the Hong Kong Community Anti-Coronavirus Link, a frontline volunteer organization in the city, JD.com has said that it will stay in close contact with the aid agency and provide additional support if needed in its fight against the coronavirus. Less than a week after JD.com made the announcement its first cargo truck arrived in the city carrying nearly 15,000 protective suits with more boxes following quickly behind it. The first batch will contain over 6,000 boxes of PPEs in total, including sanitizer gel, masks and gloves all shipped from factories and warehouses across China and consolidated in Shenzhen.
This most recent donation is just one of many made by JD.com over the past two years as it has leveraged its logistical capabilities and technological advancements to fulfill its social responsibility and help to prevent and control the coronavirus outbreaks across China. In 2020 during the early days of the pandemic JD.com donated over 100 million masks and 60,000 units of medicine and medical supplies for distribution by the Hubei Charity Foundation, and donated an additional 80,000 masks to hospitals across the city of Wuhan which was at the epicenter of the outbreak at the time.
Outside of PPE materials, JD.com has also donated a number of other items to hospitals across China including 2,000 sets of feminine care products and nearly 630,000 adult diapers to hospitals. Additionally, it utilized its supply chain infrastructure to collaborate with international berry suppliers on the donation of 1,500 cases of blueberries and raspberries and 1,320 cases of apples to staff in hospitals across Wuhan. The tech company also donated five tons of pet food and 6,000 boxes of pet medicine for the homeless animals through the Wuhan Animal Protection Association.
In addition to donations, JD.com has also contributed in a number of other ways to fighting the advance of the coronavirus pandemic. JD Health, the company’s healthcare arm which is also currently the largest pharmaceutical retailer in China, has also worked to alleviate pressure from hospitals and physicians since early in the pandemic. In late January JD.com had already launched a free consultation platform with its retail app through which people experiencing coronavirus-related symptoms such as a cough or fever could speak directly with a physician at no charge, and by March had launched a standalone app that was expanded to include full telehealth services.
In light of the recent uptick in cases in Hong Kong, JD Health has continued this pattern and launched a free online consultation service for its residents’ users to have easy access to healthcare advice from telemedicine doctors and multimedia guidance on coronavirus infection prevention.
JD Technology has also been hard at work since the onset of the pandemic to put its technological capabilities to good use. It worked with a number of local governments including Wuhan and Beijing to integrate its smart assistant technology into the mayor’s office WeChat account. Through the account, citizens were able to text questions about coronavirus-related information and services, and through artificial intelligence receive answers accurately and with immediacy.
The company is known for its advancements in information technologies such as AI, and the bot’s capabilities such as understanding semantics and analyzing syntax were just a few of the ways it was able to get a quick and accurate understanding of users’ questions. In addition to answering questions, the AI also provides services such as fever clinic inquiry, epidemic self-screening, medical guidance, and even a way to check if a user’s recent mode of transportation such as a flight or train had a coronavirus patient on it.
During earlier days of the pandemic when lockdowns were more stringent, JD also made its cloud video conferencing service free to the public for both private individuals and enterprises while encouraging people to use the service rather than risk exposure by meeting in person. Students and teachers from areas that were locked down were also provided with a free online classroom service through which online learning could continue and disruptions minimized.
Now as Hong Kong reels with the increasing coronavirus case counts, JD.com has also leveraged their mobile services for the benefit of its citizens. By mobilizing inventories and setting up a special portal on its retail app, Hong Kong customers are able to conveniently shop for anti-epidemic materials and daily necessities and are offering discounts and free delivery service to further encourage social distancing.
Much of the world is weary over the continuing fight against the coronavirus pandemic, but it is thanks to companies like JD.com that provide donations and services for the good of the communities it serves that we continue to move forward. The mission statement of JD.com is that it will be “powered by technology for a more productive and sustainable world,” and over the past two years as Covid-19 has increasingly redefined what that world looks like, JD.com has continued to step up to that task.