Malaysia may follow Singapore in having phone app to track Covid-19 contacts

Tests going on to screen those with Covid-19 symptoms.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is preparing a smartphone application that can track movements of individuals in an effort to curb the spread of Covid-19, says Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.

He said a similar application had been launched in Singapore and it has managed to successfully trace infections through the detection of close contacts.

“A few days ago, Singapore launched a mobile phone app called ‘TraceTogether’ that can track the movements of people so that in a positive case, they can look at the individual’s movement history and warn others who have been near the patient to be screened,” he said while appearing as moderator of an online forum on the ministry’s official Facebook page today.

The forum entitled “Adapting to the Challenges of Covid-19 was attended by three panellists who are fellows of the Academy of Sciences Malaysia, namely Prof Dr Awang Bulgiba Awang Mahmud (epidemiologist); Prof Shamala Devi Sekaran (immunology and virology); and Prof Dr Mahendhiran Sangaran Nair (scientific and statistical data).

Launched on March 20, the TraceTogether app can identify people who have been within two metres of Covid-19 patients for at least 30 minutes, using wireless Bluetooth technology.

Its developers say the app is useful when those infected cannot recall whom they had been in close proximity with for an extended duration.

Meanwhile, Mahendhiran said the implementation of such an application must be in line with robust regulation as well as educating the public on the importance of technology and data usage in the wellness industry.

“It’s about educating the population on how the data is used, a lot of awareness, and having a regulatory framework on who gets to see and use the data in what circumstances,” he added.