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Vietnam considers mandating installation of COVID-19 contact-tracing app

Vietnam considers mandating installation of COVID-19 contact-tracing app

Wednesday, August 19, 2020, 17:36 GMT+7
Vietnam considers mandating installation of COVID-19 contact-tracing app
A meeting of Vietnam’s National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control on August 18, 2020. Photo: Vietnam Government Portal

Vietnamese authorities are mulling over a regulation that requires all mobile subscribers to install Bluezone, a mobile app designed to assist in contact tracing, in order to better curb the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreaks.

The National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control convened its regular meeting on Monday under the chair of Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam, the committee’s head.

Dam expressed his belief that COVID-19 will stay in the country for a long time as a vaccine may take at least a year to become available to the public.

“We have to take measures to live safely alongside the disease,” Dam said at the meeting.

One of such measures is to develop technical solutions for identifying, tracking, and locating people at high risk of infection.

Relevant agencies need to prepare technology as well as legal and economic mechanisms to establish a regulation requiring all mobile subscribers to install applications — such as Bluezone and the electronic medical declaration app NCOVI — on their smartphones to support epidemic prevention and control.

It is also necessary to learn from the experience of other countries in tracing and tracking high-risk individuals, the deputy prime minister said.

Bluezone relies on Bluetooth signals to log when two users are near each another, information that can later be used for contact tracing in relation to COVID-19 cases.

The development of the Bluezone app was overseen by Vietnam’s Ministry of Information and Communications and Ministry of Health.

The app was introduced on April 18 and is available for iOS and Android devices.

The ministry is targeting 50 million active Bluezone users – the minimum number that it believes is needed for the app to have a meaningful impact.

Vietnam’s COVID-19 tally has reached 989, with 525 having recovered and 26 deaths as of Wednesday afternoon.

Five hundred and nine local infections have been reported since July 25, when the country documented its first community-based case after 99 days.

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