China has deployed a fleet of 60 drones in Guangzhou to keep people indoors amid a flare-up of Covid-19 infections.
The country had largely stamped out cases of local coronavirus transmission but decided to use the unmanned aerial vehicles when the more infectious Delta variant was discovered.
In total, six new cases of the strain first detected in India were reported in Guangzhou in 24 hours, raising the number in the outbreak to more than 100.
The police-operated drones carry cameras and broadcast messages to people venturing outdoors they are best protected by staying inside.
They also remind those going out to wear masks.
The drones add to an already dense layer of monitoring, including mobile phone health confirmations, temperature checks and quarantine for those living in or travelling to areas where the risk of infection is considered high.
Guangzhou has isolated several neighbourhoods, restricted travel out of the city and the surrounding province, and closed cinemas and other indoor entertainment venues.
Cases of the Delta variant went up to 42,323 in the UK last week, an increase of 29,892.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he has ‘serious, serious concerns’ over the spread of the variant.
Speaking at the G7 summit in Cornwall yesterday, he gave the strongest indication yet that ‘Freedom Day’ on June 21 is set to be delayed.
The likelihood that the end of restrictions will be pushed back by four weeks has been widely reported this morning but an official announcement is not due until Monday.
Any delay will come as a bitter blow to many businesses, particularly in the hospitality and leisure sectors, which had been pinning their hopes on a full summer reopening to help recoup some of the past year’s losses.