DRONES with loudspeakers have been swooping between apartment blocks in China ordering people to stay inside under the world's strictest lockdown.
Chilling footage shows the police drones flying just metres from residents' windows and blaring out Covid lockdown rules in a robotic female voice.
Videos from half a dozen cities show the drones weaving between high-rise buildings broadcasting the message: "This community is in total lockdown now. Stay in your room."
It comes after Chengdu – home to 21 million people – locked down on Thursday after 157 new infections were recorded as Beijing continues to pursue its "zero-Covid" policy.
Footage taken from a high-rise home in the sprawling city showed a drone flying between homes late at night telling people to obey lockdown orders.
And in Wuxi, a manufacturing hub in eastern China with a population of 7.5 million, an eerie video showed a drone hovering just metres from an apartment block window.
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One citizen described it as a "dystopian nightmare as reality".
The use of drones by the Chinese government to enforce strict Covid lockdowns has become a common sight.
Back in April, a drone was deployed in Shanghai to tell residents to stop singing and shouting from their windows – and curb their "thirst for freedom".
Robot dogs have also been used in some cities to tell locals to stay inside, wash your hands, and check your temperature.
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With a megaphone strapped to its back, the robot marched down apartment corridors in Shanghai and called people out for throat swabs.
China is the last major economy committed to a "zero-Covid policy",stamping out small virus outbreaks with lockdowns, mass testing and lengthy quarantines.
Residents in the city of Chengdu – locked down last week – were seen brawling over food and stripping shelves as they tried to stock up on supplies before being plunged into lockdown.
Shocking images shared by What's On Weibo showed panicked locals scrambling for supplies in supermarkets – with scuffles breaking out over the last scraps of meat and rice.
Cars were seen stuffed with meat, vegetables and eggs as locals swarmed stores, stripped shelves and braced for the worst.
One resident said "everyone was crazily stocking up on goods" because of what happened in Shanghai when it was hit by food shortages during its lockdown.
The 25-year-old said he had been "habitually stocking up" before Chengdu’s latest measures were announced.
Footage showed mile-long queues of millions of people lining up to be tested, with testing sites running 24 hours.
People have been banned from entering or leaving the city with one person from each household with a negative test allowed out each day to buy essentials.
According to state media, the start of schools' autumn term has been halted and flights have been grounded.
It's not clear when the draconian restrictions will be lifted.
“The current state of epidemic control is abnormal, complex and grim,” the local government said.
The authorities had initially played down talk of a looming lockdown – with cops arrested a man for "creating panic" after he warned the city could shut down.
Many users on the Twitter-like Weibo platform have criticised his arrested and branded him a “hero” for warning his fellow citizens.
China has continued to stamp out small Covid outbreaks with heavy-handed lockdowns.
Xining, the capital of western Qinghai province and home to 2.5 million people, has ordered schools to conduct lessons online and rolled out a mass testing drive.
China’s southern hub of Shenzhen said new restrictions would come into force from 6pm on Thursday in its Nanshan district – which hosts the headquarters of tech giants Tencent and ZTE.
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And last month, travellers in the southern island province of Hainan protested after more than 80,000 tourists were stranded in a resort because of a Covid outbreak.
Shocking footage of cops cracking down on anti-lockdown protesters in Wuhan has also been shared widely on social media, showing officers beating demonstrators with their batons.
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