"In the era of big data and the internet, the flow of each person can be seen clearly," epidemiologist Li Lanjuan told state broadcaster CCTV during an interview in February.

The renowned scientist compared China's response to Covid-19 with its reaction to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), alluding to technological developments that make it easier to track citizens.

"We should make full use of technologies such as these to find and contain the source of infection," she said.

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Christopher Udemans is a Shanghai-based technology reporter. He covers Chinese artificial intelligence, mobility, and cybersecurity. You can contact him at chrisudemans [at] technode [dot] com.