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Macao Health Code contact tracing app likely to launch at the end of November

Health chief promises users can decide whether to scan QR codes, and travel history records will be not be uploaded to bureau’s database.

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Health chief promises users can decide whether to scan QR codes, and travel history records will be not be uploaded to bureau’s database.

ARTICLE BY

PUBLISHED

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 4:42 am

The mobile app version of the Macao Health Code, together with a contact tracing function, should be ready by the end of this month, Health Bureau (SSM) Director Alvis Lo Iek Long has announced.

The health chief underlined that after the new function is launched, Macao Health Code users can choose whether or not to scan the QR codes placed at premises they are visiting. He reaffirmed that 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.

The SSM revealed earlier this year that it has been developing a new function on the Macao Health Code that will enable residents to record their whereabouts on their smartphones.

Since the Macao Health Code came into use in May last year, smartphone users have generated their health codes on the website version of the health code system. SSM officials revealed early last month that the bureau would roll out the mobile app version of the Macao Health Code in order for the new contact tracing function to get off the ground.

An increasing number of functions have been added to the Macao Health Code system since its launch last year.

In addition to a QR three-colour code (green, yellow and red) that indicates the smartphone users’ risk of having been infected with Covid-19, the Macao Health Code also displays their Covid-19 nucleic acid test (NAT) results and their Covid-19 vaccination records.

Those who have been identified as facing Covid-19 infection risks will have their Macao Health Code colour turn yellow or even red, depending on the respective risk level.

Only those with a green Macao Health Code are allowed to enter certain premises and venues, and use public transport.

Those with a yellow Macao Health Code are barred from leaving Macao, entering certain premises and venues, and taking public transport.

Normally, those who have had their Macao Health Code colour turn red will be transferred by the SSM for medical observation at a quarantine facility.

Lo said that the new contact tracing function will initially only be used at public medical institutions, such as the Conde de São Januário Hospital Centre, health centres and health stations. 

During the trial period of the mobile app, the SSM will gather users’ opinions and suggestions with the aim of improving it, before the use of the contact tracing function could be extended to various premises in the city.

Macao’s recent Covid-19 clusters, Lo said, have shown that it is difficult for those who have been identified as having been in contact with Covid-19 patients to remember their local travel history within the previous 14 days. 

Consequently, Lo said, the SSM needs to make good use of technology to help residents more accurately assess their Covid-19 infection risks by confirming whether they have been in contact with those who are later confirmed as novel coronavirus patients.

Lo reaffirmed that the SSM is currently conducting final tests on the Macao Health Code mobile app. He said that the bureau is applying to release it on app stores such as  Google Play, which he said was expected to become available by the end of this month.

Lo pledged that the bureau will ensure that the launch of the trial version of the Macao Health Code mobile app will not affect residents, including all those who will not use the contact tracing function initially, in generating their health codes – which are required when entering certain premises, and taking public transport. 

Lo said that as more residents download and use the mobile app, the SSM expected to receive more opinions and suggestions about it so that it could be improved. He also said that the bureau is discussing setting-up a QR code on the premises of various public entities.

 

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 4:42 am

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