Elderly Chinese man is forced to walk 590 miles to his relatives’ home after being banned from public transport because he doesn’t have a smartphone to prove he is free of coronavirus

  • The man spent two weeks walking from one province to another in China 
  • Coach drivers refused to take him because he didn’t have a QR health code 
  • Chinese citizens must use a smartphone app to get around due to COVID-19 
  • The story has drawn attention to millions who don’t use the advanced devices 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

An elderly man in eastern China has been forced to walk nearly 600 miles after being banned from using public transport because he did not have a smartphone.

The resident, known by his surname Ge, spent half a month travelling on foot after failing to use a government-approved app to prove he did not have COVID-19, according to reports. 

The man has been picked up by his family after his story was shared online by a lorry driver who spotted the traveller on the side of a road. 

An elderly man (pictured) in eastern China has been forced to walk nearly 600 miles after being banned from using public transport because he failed to prove himself coronavirus-free

The elderly resident planned to visit his relatives living in another province but ended up spending over two weeks travelling by foot after coach drivers refused to take him. The file picture taken on April 11 shows a man walking past a QR health code at Wuhan Tianhe Airport

The elderly man from Anhui province of eastern China was travelling to Zhejiang, a neighbouring region. 

He was said to have no children and hope to stay with his relatives and find a job there.

He was stopped from using public transport because he didn’t have a smartphone to prove he was free of coronavirus, according to the local media Cover News.

Since the coronavirus outbreak erupted late last year, Chinese citizens have been required to produce a health code on their smartphones before being allowed to enter public places or use public transport.

Without the dedicated barcode, people can be forbidden from boarding a subway, checking into a hotel or going into a supermarket.

The elderly man was eventually spotted by a truck driver, known by his surname Liu, who saw the traveller waving at him on the side of a road on the late night of Wednesday. 

The resident is said to have walked over 950 kilometres (590 miles) from Bozhou city in Anhui to Taizhou in Zhejiang.

After learning the elderly man’s story, Mr Liu took him to get some food and offered to drive him to where the resident’s relatives lived.

The truck driver later told the local media: ‘His relatives lived in a food market. The gate of the market was locked, so I offered him to stay the night at mine.

‘I also offered to help him check into a hotel room. He declined as well,’ Mr Liu said.

The elderly man insisted that he would sleep in a nearby park to ‘avoid causing the lorry driver more troubles’.

Citizens across China have been required to show a green health code from their phones upon travelling since the coronavirus outbreak erupted in the country. A man scans a QR code to prove himself virus-free before being allowed to enter a supermarket in Beijing on June 22

Mr Liu eventually left the traveller with his phone number after the old man refused to accept any more help.

The heart-breaking story came to light after the lorry driver uploaded the footage on Friday.

The news quickly became a trending topic on Chinese social media after tens of millions of Chinese web users were saddened by the elderly man’s journey and pledged to help him find his family.

A social media user eventually recognised the resident as their neighbour after seeing the news online.

The elderly traveller is said to have been picked up by his family from a local police station on Saturday and returned to his home in Anhui.

The news quickly became a trending topic on Chinese social media after tens of millions of Chinese web users were saddened by the elderly man’s journey and pledged to help him find his family. The man is pictured being picked up by his family at a local police station in Zhejiang

The elderly traveller is said to have been picked up by his family from a local police station on Saturday and returned to his home in Anhui. He is pictured being driven back to his home

China’s coronavirus health code system is made possible by the high popularity of smartphones in the country and the ruling Communist Party’s embrace of ‘Big Data’ to extend its surveillance and control over society. 

However, for the 200million Chinese people who don’t use the advanced devices, the measure has created great challenges for their lives. 

The elderly man’s story has sparked a discussion on social media as people urged authorities to come up with alternative methods for those without a smartphone. 

One commenter wrote: ‘Elderly people are having a hard time adapting to this digital age. Please reserve some traditional measures for them.’

Another one said: ‘Health code is really inconvenient for elderly people. My grandma struggles to use it every time she goes out.’

A third web user urged: ‘Please come up with some solutions for people who don’t have or don’t know how to use health codes during the coronavirus outbreak. Don’t be so rigid.’ 

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