MOH Touts Social Discipline, Contact Tracing Apps In Curbing Covid-19

Technology-powered contact tracing systems advanced epidemic control in societies like Taiwan and South Korea.

KUALA LUMPUR, May 4 — The Ministry of Health (MOH) has urged Malaysians to practice self-discipline in safe distancing, like in South Korea and Taiwan, after Malaysia partially lifted its nationwide lockdown today.

Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the relaxed Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO), which is in effect from today until May 12, was aimed at reopening business sectors after a seven-week lockdown under the Movement Control Order (MCO), but they must still comply with standard operating procedures (SOPs) on social distancing measures.

“Looking into the practice in other countries, for example, Taiwan and Korea, they do not have the MCO in place, but what they did is basically they have social discipline in place, and they comply with SOP,” Dr Noor Hisham told a press conference today.

Similar to Taiwan and South Korea’s approach with health technology during the Covid-19 pandemic, MOH has announced a few mobile applications to aid in data collection and contact tracing to curb the spread of Covid-19 here.

With the aid of modern technology, Taiwan and South Korea have been successful in managing the Covid-19 outbreak and their societies, besides their citizens’ compliance with social distancing, international media reported.

The World Health Organization (WHO) does not officially recognise Taiwan as a country, which hinders their access to the WHO and forced them to develop their own health vigilance systems by being one step ahead of everyone else with measures such as travel bans and mass distribution of masks to its citizens.

To quickly identify cases, contain the spread of infection, and allocate resources to protect the public health, Taiwan integrated its national health insurance database with its immigration and customs database to create a large database for analytics. Taiwanese officials also utilised new technology such as QR code scanning and online reporting of travel history and health symptoms to evaluate travelers’ risks of infection, as cited by JAMA Network.

South Korea’s strategy in battling the Covid-19 pandemic is through widespread testing, a government contact tracing app that traces the routes of infections, and the use of mandatory tracking bracelets on those who break quarantine laws, as reported by Business Insider US.

New arrivals of travelers into South Korea are required to download the government-run mobile app that tracks their location and for them to report any symptoms related to Covid-19. Even those without symptoms have to undergo a compulsory two-week self-quarantine before they are allowed to delete the app from their mobile device, Business Insider US reported.

While such technology worked for countries like Taiwan and South Korea, there are still privacy issues that obstruct its implementation in countries like the United States due to the country’s extensive privacy laws.

“Now that SOP is clear, we would like to urge all Malaysians to practice social distancing, put on a mask when in public, and make sure to continue to wash your hands with soap and water or even with sanitiser. Compliance is important. If we can comply to the SOP, rest assured that we will break the chain of Covid-19 transmission,” said Dr Noor Hisham.

MOH today reported 55 new Covid-19 cases, including seven imported cases, which means that 48 are local transmissions, including 24 from Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO) areas. Community transmissions are at 24 today.

The total number of Covid-19 cases in Malaysia is 6,353. No new death was reported today; the total number of fatalities from Covid-19 as of today remains at 105.

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