After the new Coronavirus cases emerged in Beijing's wholesale market, people claimed that WeChat Pay and Alipay had provided the government with the user data of about 350,000 people who had visited Xinfadi market. But both the companies have denied such claims.

The Chinese digital apps earlier shared screenshots of posts in Weibo stating that they have helped the Beijing authorities to identify people who had visited the market. As per the screenshots the posts said:

"Alipay and WeChat have done [the country] a great service by quickly identifying 350,000 people.

"There have been no cash transactions at the market since the start of the epidemic, so Alipay and WeChat were able to easily confirm the people affected, who are all being screened for the virus now"

No Post, No Proof

Weibo post
Weibo post

On Sunday night the Alipay, operated by Ant Financial Services Group, which is an affiliate of Alibaba Group Holdings said the digital payment app has not provided the data mentioned in the screenshot. "For information about the epidemic situation, please refer to the official announcements of the health and epidemic prevention authorities," it added.

WeChat said it has never provided the data mentioned in the screenshot and asked not to share and believe rumors as well as to check the official information release channel of the health and epidemic prevention authorities. However, on Monday the posts could not be found on Weibo indicating that these posts may have been deleted from the Chinese social media platform.

Earlier reports revealed that the local authorities have collected personal data of Chinese people, including their location details and self-reported medical history. As a part of the nationwide initiative, the authorities have also assigned them colored QR health codes to determine whether they have to be quarantined. The health code system, which has drawn concerns of mislabelling and privacy leaks, received support from Alipay and WeChat.

Coronavirus Targets Beijing

Beijing Xinfadi market
Xinfadi market, Beijing Twitter

The emergence of new Coronavirus cases with unknown origin linked to the Beijing market over the last weekend shocked many as domestic infection cases in the country had dropped to almost zero. As the new cluster emerged, Beijing authorities have already closed the marker and asked people who have been in there over the past 14 days to stay at home. On Sunday, healthcare authorities collected samples from 76,499 people, with 59 returning positive results for COVID-19. On Monday, Chinese healthcare officials reported 49 new cases, including 36 more in Beijing.

The new cluster of cases is linked to Beijing's food market, a sprawling complex over 20 times larger than the controversial seafood market in Wuhan where the first COVID-19 outbreak was suspected to have originated. A total of 79 new cases have been reported in the Chinese capital over four days, the biggest concentration of infections reported in the city since February.

On Monday, Xu Hejiang, spokesperson for the Beijing city government, said at a press conference that the risk of the epidemic spread is "very high" so the authorities should take resolute and decisive measures,