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Contact tracing function to be available on health code mobile app within this month: health chief

2021-11-11 03:12     Comment:0

Health Bureau (SSM) Director Alvis Lo Iek Long said yesterday that the bureau aims to roll out the mobile app version of the Macau Health Code by the end of this month, to which a contact tracing function will be added.

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

Lo made the remarks while speaking to reporters after attending a current affairs phone-in programme hosted by Ou Mun Tin Toi, the Chinese-language radio channel of public broadcaster TDM.

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

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

More and more functions have been added to the Macau 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 Macau Health Code also displays their COVID-19 nucleic acid test (NAT) results and their COVID-19 vaccination records.

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

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

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

Normally, those who have had their Macau Health Code colour turn red will be transferred by the Health Bureau for medical observation at a quarantine facility for a period of time whose length will be determined on a case-by-case basis by the bureau depending on the respective individual’s situation.

Under certain circumstances those with a red Macau Health Code may have no need to undergo quarantine, in which case they are, however, subject to stricter measures compared to those with a yellow health code.


Trial version first

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Lo said that the Health Bureau will launch the trial version of the Macau Health Code mobile app by the end of this month, which will then have the new contact tracing function.

According to Lo, the new contact tracing function will initially only be used at public medical institutions, namely the public Conde de São Januário Hospital Centre, health centres and health stations. During the trial-run period of the mobile app version of the Macau Health Code, Lo said, the Health Bureau will keep gathering the users’ opinions and suggestions with the aim of making constant improvements to the app, before the use of the contact tracing function could be extended to various premises and venues in the city.


Hard to remember travel history

Macau’s recent COVID-19 clusters, Lo said, have shown that it’s 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, there is a need for the Health Bureau to make good use of IT technology with the aim of helping 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 also reaffirmed that the Health Bureau is currently testing the Macau Health Code mobile app in its final stage of the app’s development work. He also said that the Health Bureau is applying to release the Macau Health Code mobile app on app stores (i.e., App Store and Google Play), which he said was expected to available by the end of this month.

Lo pledged that the bureau will ensure that the launch of the trial version of the Macau 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 venues, and taking public transport. 

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


Health Bureau (SSM) Director Alvis Lo Iek Long speaks to reporters after yesterday’s phone-in programme hosted by public broadcaster TDM’s Chinese-language radio channel. Photo courtesy of TDM

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