New anti-Covid phone app for use when entering shops

New anti-Covid phone app for use when entering shops

People buy food at CentralFestival EastVille shopping centre in Bangkok on Wednesday. The government will on Friday launch a new phone app to facilitate disease control at shops. (Photo: Arnun Chonmahatrakool)
People buy food at CentralFestival EastVille shopping centre in Bangkok on Wednesday. The government will on Friday launch a new phone app to facilitate disease control at shops. (Photo: Arnun Chonmahatrakool)

The government will launch a new mobile phone app to facilitate disease-control tracking of customers as shops reopen with the easing of the coronavirus lockdown.

Taweesilp Visanuyothin, spokesman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, said on Thursday that shop owners would register online for a QR code that would be placed in front of their shop.

Customers would use their mobile phone to scan the code as they enter and leave the premises.

"The 'Thai Chana' application will tell customers if their targeted shop, such as a barber, is still vacant enough to welcome them," Dr Taweesilp said.

"Shopping centres will use the application when they open their rest areas, in addition to their already opened supermarkets and electrical appliance sales."

Dr Taweesilp said the Thai Chana app would serve 70-80% of people based on the number of mobile phone users, who account for 70-80% of Thailand's population.

"Young children and elderly people who do not use mobile phones will be able to use manual registration," he said.

The app would facilitate the government's attempts to quickly track people infected with Covid-19 and those in close contact with them. Its effectiveness would lead to the further reopening of businesses and activities, he said.

Dr Polawat Witoolkollachit, inspector-general of the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, said the new app would be launched on Friday afternoon, along with details of how to register. All kinds of shops could use it, including street vendors.

He said customers could also use the app to tell the government if the shops they visited followed Covid-19 control measures.

He said customers' privacy would be protected. Only the Disease Control Department would have access to customers' information, and only for the sake of disease control. 

"The system will help prevent a second wave of Covid-19. Those who come in close contact with infected people at shops will be called in for testing.

"With this system, a call will go out only to the mobile phones of customers who visited the shop in the same hour as the infected person. Previously, the call for testing went to all visitors to the premises that day," Dr Polawat said.

No details have yet been released on how customers would download the app to their phones, and what personal information they would expose.

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