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Contact-tracing-function QR codes to be available at govt facilities by month-end: SSM

2021-11-26 03:58     BY Tony Wong    Comment:0

Addressing yesterday’s press conference about Macau’s novel coronavirus situation, Health Bureau (SSM) Control of Communicable Diseases and Surveillance of Diseases Department Coordinator Leong Iek Hou announced that the government expects to place contact-tracing-function QR codes at its various premises and facilities by the end of this month for Macau Health Code mobile app users to scan so that they can record their whereabouts on their smartphones – i.e., records showing that they have visited the respective premises or facilities.

The measure aims to encourage more residents who are still using the website version of the Macau Health Code to switch to its mobile app version, Leong said.

The Health Bureau rolled out the mobile app version of the Macau Health Code that contains a contact tracing function on Thursday last week.

The new contact tracing function aims to enable residents to record their whereabouts accurately, which will help health officials in their epidemiological investigations in case the city is hit by local COVID-19 cases. 

During the ongoing trial-run period of the Macau Health Code mobile app, which started on Thursday last week, the new contact tracing function is only being used at public medical institutions, namely the public Conde de São Januário Hospital Centre, public health centres and health stations, and other Health Bureau facilities – i.e., the QR codes are only available there. In addition, the contact tracing function is being used at the ongoing Macau Food Festival, which will end early next month. The contact tracing function was also used at the three-day Macau Grand Prix, which ended on Sunday.

The Health Bureau said last week that after the trial-run period, the use of the contact tracing function will be extended to a string of premises and venues in the city.

The website version of the Macau Health Code remains operational, which means that smartphone users can choose to continue using the website version or switch to the mobile app version, when generating their health code. However, the new contact tracing function is only available on the mobile app version, as mobile web browsers are unable to scan a QR code.

The Health Bureau has underlined that while using the mobile app version, Macau Health Code users can choose whether or not to use the contact tracing function – scanning the QR codes placed in the premises and venues they are visiting. However, the bureau said last week that it will not rule out the possibility of requiring all those entering certain premises and venues to use the contact tracing function in case Macau confirms new local COVID-19 cases.

The Health Bureau has also reaffirmed that when using the contact tracing function, 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, as the function merely aims to help them record their whereabouts.


8 pct of health code users switch to app version

During yesterday’s press conference, Leong said that as of Wednesday, 53,079 smartphone users had downloaded the Macau Health Code mobile app since its launch on Thursday last week. Leong said that between Tuesday and 9 a.m. yesterday, 159,255 person-times had generated their health code on the mobile app version, whereas around 2.23 million person-times had continued using the website version to generate their health code during the same period.

Leong said the statistics show that residents who have downloaded the Macau Health Code mobile app are “willing” to generate their health code on the app version. Leong also underlined that the health code mobile app has been running smoothly since its launch, pledging that the bureau will keep collecting users’ opinions and suggestions with the aim of making constant improvements to the app.

Leong said that the statistics indicate that around eight percent of Macau Health Code users have switched to the mobile app version since its launch a week ago, which she said was “a good achievement”.

Leong urged residents to download and use the Macau Health Code mobile app, adding that she is also using the app version and personally thinks that using it is more convenient for users to generate their health code compared to the website version. The operation of the app version is also more stable than the website version, she said.

Leong said that with the aim of promoting the use of the Macau Health Code mobile app, the government’s various public entities are now working with the aim of ensuring that the contact-tracing-function QR codes will be available on their respective premises and facilities by the end of this month.


Measures to boost seniors’ jab rate

Meanwhile, Leong said that the Health Bureau is studying how to boost Macau’s COVID-19 vaccination rate among senior citizens, which she said is much lower than in other jurisdictions. 

Leong said that while the city’s COVID-19 inoculation rate is high among those aged between 20 and 59, the jab rate among senior citizens is still very low.

Leong said that the vaccination rate among those aged between 20 and 49 has reached over 90 percent, while the jab rate among those aged between 50 and 59 has reached nearly 80 percent.

Leong said that while the vaccination rate among senior citizens aged between 60 and 69 stands at over 50 percent, the jab rate among those aged between 70 and 79 only stands at just over 30 percent, and the inoculation rate among those aged 80 or over stands at around merely 12 percent.

Consequently, Leong said, Macau’s COVID-19 vaccination rate among young and middle-aged people is high when compared globally, but the city’s jab rate among senior citizens is very low. Leong noted that senior citizens’ COVID-19 vaccination rate in Portugal stands at over 90 percent, and their jab rates in Australia and some Southeast Asian countries are also very high. 


A contact-tracing-function QR code is displayed yesterday at the Health Bureau’s (SSM) accommodation facility for public health workers, which is located next to the public Conde de São Januário Hospital Centre. Photo: Tony Wong




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