MOSTI Wants 200 Contact Tracers, Gets Funds Approved For MySejahtera Bluetooth Feature

MOSTI initially intended to use telecommunication data for contact tracing, but was flagged by MCMC as this required amendments to the PDPA.

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 26 — The Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) has requested to hire 200 contact tracers from the Public Services Department (JPA) as part of efforts to digitise Covid-19 contact tracing using the MySejahtera app.

Nordina Idris, MOSTI’s strategic technology and S&T application division secretary, did not specify the exact functions of the contact tracers, but implied that they will be involved in the mapping of close contact data on a central dashboard that will be accessible to health care workers.

“We have a dashboard to help health care workers with contact tracing. We’ve developed this dashboard to report data and access contact trackers to speed up the contact tracing process. For this, we have applied to JPA for 200 contact tracers who will contact [close contacts]. 

“So, it’s all in the pipeline,” Nordina said at a September 21 meeting with the Dewan Rakyat health, science and innovation committee, based on meeting transcripts published in the committee’s 634-page “Transitioning from Pandemic to Endemic Covid-19 Safely and Sustainably” report that was tabled in Parliament on November 1.

CodeBlue previously reported on another section from the committee’s meeting transcripts which detailed the government’s plan to incorporate Bluetooth technology into MySejahtera for contact tracing and a separate mobile app with geofencing technology for home quarantine supervision.

Nordina said MOSTI initially intended to make use of telecommunication data for contact tracing, but was flagged by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) as the move required the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) 2012 to be amended.

“In turn, we opted for GPS with Bluetooth in order to meet privacy terms under Google Play Store and Apple App Store,” she said.

When asked by Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii, the committee’s chair, on the Bluetooth timeline, Nordina said she was not in a position to provide a clear timeline but the instruction given was “immediate”.

A slide presented by MOSTI at the October 4 meeting stated an October 31 timeline on incorporating a Bluetooth contact tracing feature into MySejahtera.

“Mr Chairman, by right, we’re supposed to have it in place already. So, we are working very hard. All the teams — the Ministry of Health, MOSTI, and everyone else — are all pushing forward. The Ministry of Finance (MOF) has also approved funding (for contact tracing) even though we did not state the amount. The MOF said it’s blanket, it’s approved. So, we will have to work it out,” Nordina said.

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