In China, the coronavirus outbreak led online orders of meals and groceries to spike as people looked to avoid crowded locations like supermarkets. Delivery companies have been forced to adapt quickly to the increased demand and change in buying patterns, with more customers interested in groceries than takeout. Meituan and, China’s two biggest delivery platforms, also launched “contactless” delivery services allowing couriers to drop orders at a designated area for pickup by the customer, thus eliminating any in-person interaction between the two.

It is in theory preferable for sick people to order their food online during an outbreak than to journey to a store where they’re likely to infect others. In practice, whether delivery services could be an effective containment step will depend on how well they’re managed and what safety precautions are put in place for delivery workers who end up on the frontline.

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