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Super apps help Chinese abroad weather coronavirus outbreak

WeChat, Alipay and other popular apps find new purpose as lifeline in uncertain times

Massive user bases have helped Chinese apps like WeChat become a vital resource amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Source photos by Reuters and Getty Images) 

PALO ALTO, U.S. -- For the past month, a lengthy spreadsheet has been circulating among Chinese users of the WeChat messaging app living in California.

Created by a group of anonymous volunteers, the document contains a list of QR codes for special WeChat chat rooms, organized by zip code. Users find their neighborhood, scan the corresponding code to join the room -- and then hopefully never have to use it.

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