In southwestern China’s Yunnan province, residents must now scan a QR code to enter and exit public places, including residential complexes, markets, malls, hospitals, and public transit hubs, as people begin working again amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The regulation, issued by the provincial government earlier this week in a bid to contain the outbreak in Yunnan, came into effect on Feb. 12 and intends to improve movement tracking capabilities.
To comply with the new policy, those managing designated public spaces need to provide two QR codes—one for entry and one for exit—at the entrances of such areas, after obtaining them from the “Yunnan Anti-Epidemic” WeChat mini-program. Visitors are required to log onto WeChat and scan the codes when coming in or out. For those without smartphones, identity numbers will be manually recorded instead.
“The promotion of this new code-scanning registration method can provide a solution to curb the virus by improving the accuracy and timeliness of tracing individual movement,” said Liu Yuewen, head of the Big Data Expert Group at the Department of Public Security of Yunnan Province, during a press conference yesterday.
The 2019nCov coronavirus has caused 1,368 deaths and nearly 60,000 infections in China as of Feb. 13. Yunnan has so far seen 155 confirmed cases without any casualties.
Some have raised privacy concerns over the move on social media platform Weibo. In response, Liu said that mobile phone numbers are the only personal information to be collected, adding that this data will only used by professionals involved in Yunnan’s anti-epidemic work, and will be deleted after the outbreak.
“The privacy of citizens will be well-protected,” he said.
Chinese tech companies have offered a slew of apps and features to help netizens check whether they recently came into proximity with confirmed cases. These include Qihoo 360’s tracking platform and Tencent’s epidemic map.