Story at a glance

  • The app uses a Quick Response code and other apps like Alipay or WeChat.
  • The app was developed by the Chinese government and state-owned China Electronics Technology Group.
  • Those who may have been near an infected person are advised to stay home and contact health authorities.

Chinese authorities have developed and launched a smartphone app that allows people to check their level of risk for catching the coronavirus, according to the state-run news agency Xinhua.

The app will allow users to scan a Quick Response (QR) code via apps such as Alipay, WeChat or QQ to see if they have been near someone who has been confirmed or suspected of being infected with the deadly virus. 

Close contact is defined as being near someone who is or may be infected with no effective protection, even if the person was showing no symptoms at the time. 

Users must register their phone number, enter their name and ID number. The app allows users to check the status of up to three other people by entering ID numbers. If they are found to have been in close contact with someone who is or may be infected, they are advised to stay at home and contact medical personnel. 

The app was jointly developed by government departments and the state-owned China Electronics Technology Group, using data collected by health and transport authorities, according to Xinhua. 

The technology is possible due to the Chinese government’s high-tech surveillance apparatus, which includes a video camera network, facial recognition software and artificial intelligence. 

The World Health Organization reports there have been 42,708 coronavirus infections and 1,017 deaths in China so far. There have been at least 393 cases in 24 countries and one death outside of China.

Published on Feb 11, 2020