The mobile app version of the Macao Health Code which contains a contact tracing function is now ready for download.
Developed by the Health Bureau (SSM), the new contact tracing function aims to enable residents to record their whereabouts accurately, which will help health officials in their investigations in case the city is hit by a Covid-19 epidemic.
The new contact tracing function will initially only be used at the Conde de São Januário Hospital Centre, health centres and health stations, and other SSM facilities.
The function will also be used at the Macau Grand Prix and the 17-day Macau Food Festival, which both start today.
After the trial-run period, the contact tracing function will be extended around the city.
The website version of the Macao Health Code will remain operational, so smartphone users can continue using the website version or switch to the mobile app, when generating their health code. However, the new contact tracing function is only available on the mobile app version.
While using the mobile app version, Macao Health Code users can choose whether or not to use the contact tracing function – scanning the QR codes placed on the places they are visiting. However, the SSM said that it will not rule out the possibility of requiring all those entering venues to use the contact tracing function if Macao is hit by a Covid-19 epidemic.
The SSM has underlined that when using the contact tracing function, users’ travel history records will only be stored on their smartphones after they scan the QR codes, and will not be uploaded onto the bureau’s database, as the function merely aims to help them record their whereabouts.
SSM Control of Communicable Diseases and Surveillance of Diseases Department Coordinator Leong Iek Hou said the new app has three major objectives:
1) to help Covid-19 patients and those who have been in contact with novel coronavirus patients remember their recent local travel history accurately, making the SSM’s Covid-19 investigations easier.
2) to enable Macao Health Code users to compare their whereabouts records with those of confirmed Covid-19 patients, and those who have been identified as having been in contact with novel coronavirus patients who will be notified by SMS about the Covid-19 risk they have incurred.
3) to enable the SSM to quickly identify those who are at risk of having been infected with the novel coronavirus, with the aim of helping its fight against Covid-19.
Leong noted that the website version of the Macao Health Code is mainly used for a digital health declaration function, while the mobile app version has two additional functions. The first enables smartphone users to record their whereabouts, while the second lets them assess their Covid-19 infection risk by confirming whether they have been in contact with those who are later confirmed as novel coronavirus patients.
Leong said there were five important points to note about the contact tracing function:
- Users can record their local travel history by scanning the QR codes at the places they visit.
- Users’ travel history records will only be stored on their smartphones for 28 days.
- If Macao has new local Covid-19 cases, health officials will help the confirmed patients upload their whereabouts records onto the SSM’s database as long as they agree, after which the Macao Health Code IT system will classify the places that represent a Covid-19 risk. If confirmed Covid-19 patients refuse to upload their whereabouts records from their smartphones onto the bureau’s database, Leong said that according to the law they must report what they recall of their travel history to health officials, in which case the officials can enter the information onto the Macao Health Code IT system.
- Users can download the latest list from the bureau’s database classifying places with a Covid-19 risk. Leong said that if users have been identified as having visited the same places as confirmed Covid-19 patients at the same or similar time, their Macao Health Code will turn to yellow, in which case they will also receive an SMS telling them to contact the bureau for follow-up action.
- Leong underlined that only after app users agree will their whereabouts records be uploaded onto the bureau’s database.
The Macao Health Code mobile app is available on the iOS system’s app store for iPhone users. Smartphone users with the Android operating system have to download an APK file for the installation of the app on their phones, because Google Play is yet to approve the SSM’s application for the mobile app to be released on the platform.
After downloading the app, Leong said, smartphone users will have to fill in their personal and contact information.
During the trial-run period of the Macao Health Code mobile app, Leong said, smartphone users can submit their opinions and suggestions.
Leong underlined that although the SSM has now launched the health code’s app version, its website version – but without the contact tracing function – will remain operational, however she said that the bureau may cancel the website version if only very few people still use it.
Leong underlined that the contact tracing function is used on a voluntary basis. But she was quick to add that the bureau will not rule out the possibility of requiring all those entering certain places to use the contact tracing function in case Macao confirms new Covid-19 cases, The Macau Post Daily reported.